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Woman Files Suit Against the Wings Club

June 19, 2003

A former president of Continental Airlines and the current president of North American Airlines are accused of sexually harassing a woman who worked for both men over a two-year period at the Wings Club, a New York-based social organization for aviation professionals.

Alison Minton, 37, the former general manager of the Wings Club, alleges in a complaint filed Monday with the Supreme Court of the State of New York 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 addition to 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.

The defendants named in the complaint are the Wings Club, its former vice president, Phil Bakes, 57, and its former president, Dan McKinnon, 69.

The attorney representing the defendants, Rob Milman of the New York law firm Milman & Heidecker, said ``it is our position that this is a disgruntled former employee looking to destroy the reputations of high-level individuals in the aviation field.″

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 said she rebuffed Bakes _ twice inside hotel rooms and once at her home _ because he was married.

Milman, the defendants’ attorney, 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,″ Milman 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 that McKinnon told Minton her job performance was ``good for a woman″ and that he questioned her sexual orientation.

The lawsuit claims that after Minton’s objected to McKinnon’s comments midway through 2001, he began complaining about her work.

McKinnon referred a call for comment to Milman. Milman said McKinnon ``denies outright″ the allegations.

According to the complaint, 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. The offer was made in early February 2002 over dinner at the Muse Hotel in New York. Later that evening, in a room at the hotel, Minton asserts that she rebuffed a sexual advance by Bakes.

Minton’s last day of work for the club was March 28, 2002.

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