Kimberly Goesling has decided to leave the job she once loved. She spent more than 30 years as a flight attendant at American Airlines before the attack that changed her life forever. This is her message to the man in charge at American, Doug Parker.
Read her full resignation letter to Doug Parker to get a glimpse of what Kimberly’s experience has been like during this difficult time as an American Airlines employee and as a woman in the workforce. She is calling for change in an effort to protect her fellow American Airlines workers and others on the front lines.
Dear Mr. Parker,
I am writing to inform you that my last day at American Airlines will be December 15, 2021.
In truth, I have put off writing this letter to you more than once, hoping against hope I might find another path. But as time has gone on, and the airline I once loved and devoted a career to has behaved so reprehensibly, it has become clear there is no other way.
I also debated sending this to you, given your announced resignation and the changeover in management coming in March. But then I thought—no—this all happened on your watch. You’re the one who should receive this letter.
Here is the real truth: I shouldn’t be the one who has to leave. It should be you that left long before now, you and every other manager and individual at American who played a role in making the company’s response to my sexual assault yet another attack on me and my family.
In short then, you should leave, not because it is time for an orderly transition of management, but instead because what happened to me happened while you were in charge. The people who harmed me are your people.
Let’s recount just some of what you and your company have done.
If that is not enough, at my deposition, your airlines’ own lawyer asked what finger my attacker used in violating me and how far he inserted it. She asked me this multiple times.
You should be ashamed. But I believe you feel no shame nor, somehow, any responsibility for having hired the man who attacked me. Because I feel responsibility for the men and women who will remain behind at American Airlines when I leave, I am passing along a short list of things you and the airline need to do differently to protect the women and men who work for you.
Number 1. Do as you say.
Your own standards of business conduct says, “If you learn of or suspect illegal or unethical conduct, or if you find yourself in a situation that just doesn’t seem right, speak up.” Those very same standards say retaliation will not be tolerated. That sounds wonderful perhaps because someone in HR is a good writer. The problem is those words are utterly meaningless unless the airline is going to back them up with action. As I learned in my own case, that action never came. In fact, the only actions I witnessed were aimed at ignoring these standards and in violating and victimizing me again.
Number 2. Get your managers some training.
Given the standards above and what I witnessed, I can only assume that many of your managers have not received proper training or instruction on how to treat employees, especially those who are victims of sexual assault. If you have not already provided such training, please do so immediately. If you have provided the training, ask yourself, where did we go wrong? In what part of our training did it say it was okay to ask a sexual assault victim what she was wearing when the attack happened? This is what one of your own HR managers asked me.
Number 3. Put the frontline people first.
When someone flies American airlines, they don’t see your face Mr. Parker – they see mine. They see the faces of all of my flight deck and cabin crew members. They see ticket agents, baggage handlers, maintenance team members and all the other thousands of people it takes to run an airline. They don’t see you or the board or anyone in the C-Suite.
Those on the frontline matter. We are the faces and voices and helping hands who work for your passengers – my passengers – every single day. If American succeeds, it is because of us.
When one of the front-line steps forward with a complaint, you should listen. Not ignore them, as you did me. Not attack them, as you did me. Not retaliate against them, as you did me.
I have very little faith you will listen to—let alone adopt and act on—any of these points. But I feel obligated to say them aloud and share them where possible because my failure to do so would amount to an endorsement of how you have run my airline. And I will not under any circumstances do that.
Perhaps you could pass along these ideas to incoming CEO Robert Isom. Maybe he is a good listener, or at the very least, a better one.
Please take care of my passengers and my colleagues. Please treat them better than you have me.
Until American Airlines Has to Answer a Sexual Assault Claim
Miller Bryant, LLP | Dallas, Texas