China’s Top Airline Sued for Retaliating Against Man Who Stood Up To Sexual Harassment

The state-owned airline was accused of firing an employee who was trying to put a stop to sexual harassment. The employee lost his job when Air China transferred ownership of his department as part of a scheme to cover up the alleges harassment.

In 2010 one Pengsheng Huang partnered with Hui Yu to manage a dormitory owned by Air China for use by its employees. According to the complaint,  the two entered into a contract to do so.  One of their employees, Congtao Li, worked as a manager of the dormitory, while another, Huan Wang, worked the front desk.  

In 2016 Wang complained to Huang about being sexually harassed by Li, which Huang in-turn reported to Air China.  Rather than take corrective action against Li, or even investigate the complaint, Air China decided to fire Huang, and replace Wang with a male receptionist, the complaint states.

To do so, Air China terminated its contract with Huang and Yu but immediately entered into a new one with a new corporation, Oceanfront, formed by Yu alone, according to the complaint.

“[They] schemed and agreed that [Huang’s] contract would be terminated, and [Yu] would take over property management of Air China’s dormitory, as a means to terminate [Huang] because of his opposition to the sexual harassment and discrimination, his charges and reporting of said unlawful acts, and his participation as a witness in the investigations.”

The case was brought in the Eastern District of New York by James Costo of New York.  Huang seeks compensatory and punitive damages as well as declaratory judgement that Air China’s actions violated the law.

Air China is one of he world’s largest airlines, carrying tens of millions of passengers each year. They made headlines in 2016 after telling tourists to avoid “areas mainly populated by Indians, Pakistanis and black people,” in London. They did not return a message requesting comment.

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