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What Happens In The 30,000-Foot Office Stays At The Office Or Maybe Not!

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By Mark Carey

Welcome to the private world of billionaire executives and their 30,000-foot office environments. You may be salivating right now envious of a luxury work environment.  Huh? Yep, your work environment could be on board a private Bombardier Global 6000 (take the tour) with room for 14 passengers and fly as high as 51,000 feet at a top speed of 564 miles per hour.  Is the height and speed of the office environment out of reach of state and federal laws covering the employees who work on these flight decks?  For some wealthy executives, they think so, but the reality is like a double bite in the ass by a pit bull- it has to hurt!

As a flavor primer, I think it is appropriate to start with the story of the late Sumner Redstone high flying antics.  On December 31, 2016, The New York Post reported on Sumner’s requests to flight attendants working on his corporate jet to clip his toenails for cash, but they had to sit on his lap facing his toes.  Got the visual? Well, it got worse, he would ask for their panties in exchange for money, a true quid pro quo.

Or you could be flying with former Governor Cuomo on his jet, sitting knee to knee, and he blurts out “Let’s Play strip poker”.  See the full true story HERE.

A serious but true article about “Why Really Smart Executives Do Really Stupid Things” appeared in the WSJ on February 25, 2022.  Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School, opined about the causes of this stupidity: Feeling Insulated; Feeling Entitled; Buying Their Own Hype; Failing to Admit Mistakes and Underestimating Opponents. Professor Kanter said, “It’s amazing how easy it is for top executives to feel they have a cloak of invisibility, even if they operate in the public eye…Self-confidence can veer into arrogance if an executive isn’t careful. Surrounded by flatters exaggerating the brilliance of their words, top officials can start feeling superior to the mere mortals below. They have incentives or punishments to dangle that can inspire fear and keep people in line…[I]t can be hard for some people at the top to say, ‘I was wrong,’ which is why misconduct often continues and requires covering up. Sometimes executives don’t want to admit flaws even to themselves, fearing it could lead to second-guessing of other decisions. They might know they are breaking a rule but delude themselves into thinking that the rule doesn’t apply exactly to their situation. They tell themselves it’s consensual. It’s just harmless banter. It will be over soon. Whatever the excuse, they cling to it to avoid having to express self-doubt…In short, life is different at the top. Without great strength of character, humility in wielding power, openness and transparency, top executives can forget that the rules apply to them too…” (Emphasis added).

According to the Association of Flight Attendant-CWA Survey, 68% of flight attendants reported experiencing sexual harassment during their careers, 35% experienced verbal sexual harassment from passengers and 18% experienced physical sexual harassment from passengers.  This survey involved commercial flight attendants and may or may not reflect the work environment of flight attendants in the private high end jet travel work environment.  

The reality for these narcistic and out of touch executives is that it does not matter where you work in the skies, flight attendants are protected from employment discrimination, including sexual harassment and sexually hostile work environments. In the end, the emperor has new clothes and don’t touch the personnel on board your private $61,000,000 oasis in the sky.

If you would like more information about gender and sex discrimination at work or your employment, please contact Carey & Associates, P.C. at 203-255-4150.