Airline Executives Slapped With Sexual Harassment Suit

June 20, 2003 ( - The past president of Continental Airlines and the current president of North American Airlines have been accused of sexual harassment by the former general manager of the Wings Club.

Alison Minton, the former employee of the New York social organization for aviation professionals, alleges that between April 2000 and March 2002 she was pressured to have sex, subjected to sexist comments and ultimately forced out of her job for rebuffing the sexual advances and complaining about discriminatory treatment to superiors in a complaint filed with the Supreme Court of the State of New York. In addition to the undisclosed compensation sought for “mental anguish, pain and suffering,” Minton is suing for $45,333 in severance, bonus and retirement pay she claims is still owed to her by the Wings Club, according to a Dow Jones report.

Among the defendants name in the suit are Phil Bakes and Dan McKinnon. Bakes, a former president of Continental Airlines and Eastern Airlines and now the chief executive of a Miami-based travel agency, is accused of creating “a hostile and offensive work environment for Ms. Minton” by making repeated sexual advances toward her, beginning in the spring of 2000, in person, via e-mail and over the telephone.

Minton claims she had to repeatedly rebuff Bakes, twice inside hotel rooms and once at her home, because he was married. However, an attorney for the defendants said the fact that Minton met Bakes on more than one occasion at hotels raises questions about the veracity of her claims.

“Wouldn’t logic dictate,” the attorney said, “that a woman who didn’t want any involvement sexually with this man would not be in a hotel room with him if it wasn’t consensual?”

McKinnon, the president of New York-based charter carrier North American Airlines and former chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board, is accused of frequently making sexist and anti-gay comments to Minton. The suit alleges he told Minton her job performance was “good for a woman” and made remarks questioning her sexual orientation.

The lawsuit claims that after Minton’s objected to McKinnon’s comments midway through 2001, he began complaining about her work. However, Bakes then offered to protect Minton’s job at the Wings Club and significantly increase her salary if she would have sexual intercourse with him.