U.S. Department of Transportation Demonstrates Commitment to Preventing Sexual Assault in Transportation
Agency takes action during National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month
April is National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. In recognition of this month, the U.S. Department of Transportation is renewing its commitment to fighting this evil and taking concrete actions to ensure that everyone can travel safely across all modes of transportation. DOT continues to engage with stakeholders, expand training and awareness for transportation employees and the traveling public, and ensure that we use our full power to hold criminals accountable.
Here are some examples of the actions the Department is taking to raise awareness and prevent sexual assault.
In the Air
Acts of sexual misconduct are punishable under law. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is continuing to implement a Zero Tolerance policy for unruly passenger behavior which includes assessing significant fines against passengers who engage in conduct that interferes with a crewmember’s performance of duties or who physically or sexually assault or threaten to physically or sexually assault crewmembers or other individuals on the aircraft.
The FBI reviews complaints it receives and conducts criminal investigations of sexual misconduct incidents occurring aboard aircraft within its jurisdiction. A State may also have concurrent jurisdiction with the Federal government to investigate and prosecute in-flight sexual misconduct incidents in situations where the flight operated solely within one State.
Anyone who experiences in-flight sexual misconduct should report the incident promptly to a flight attendant or an airline agent. If this is not feasible, they should immediately afterward seek local law enforcement at the airport. They may also contact the FAA or Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) directly. The FAA may be contacted through the FAA Hotline Reporting Form at https://hotline.faa.gov/. Incidents of sexual misconduct can be reported to the FBI at https://tips.fbi.gov/ or 1-800-CALL-FBI.
In the Trucking Industry
On April 28, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hosted a day of action to promote safety and prevent sexual assault. In coordination with the U.S. Department of Labor and the White House Office of Gender Policy, FMCSA participated in a virtual roundtable with stakeholders from the trucking industry to raise awareness of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the trucking industry.
The event highlighted potential interventions to build safe workplaces, shifting cultural norms, and ensure trauma-informed, survivor-centered responses to reports of violence and harassment that occur both in and outside of the truck.
Discussion topics included why the prevalence of sexual assault/harassment is higher in trucking than in many other workplaces, how sexual assault and harassment in the workplace contribute to high turnover in the industry, and what employers and fellow drivers can do to build safe workplaces and prevent sexual violence and harassment.
FMCSA also shared information on its social media channels all week leading up to the day of action.
On the Sea
On April 26, the Maritime Administration (MARAD) held a virtual public discussion panel on Creating Culture Change: From Intent to Action. MARAD kicked off a Campaign of Learning in conjunction with National Maritime Day with its first public panel focusing on fostering shipboard culture that promotes the fair and dignified treatment of all on board.
The event was hosted by Acting Administrator Lucinda Lessley, moderated by Michelle Thomas, and included the following panelists: Rear Admiral Nancy Hann, Director, NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) and Director, NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps; Rear Admiral Melissa Bert, Judge Advocate General & Chief Counsel, U.S. Coast Guard; and Ally Cedeno, Founder of Women Offshore, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) graduate.
Each shared their experiences on current challenges within the industry, focusing on avenues to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in a safe way for the next generation of mariners. The most prominent theme discussed around the topic of culture was on transparency – transparency within organizational policies, communication practices, and accountability systems.
The virtual community also had an opportunity to submit questions in advance and in real time to the moderator. Questions focused on the recent Sea Year Pause, additional safety measures on board vessels, and the legal and policy practices that may be used to combat negative cultures onboard vessels at sea.
The panel ended with a firm commitment to defining the type of culture the maritime community desires, agreeing that the first step to move from intent to action is to ensure robust collaboration across the represented organizations, career functions and industries.
Across the Nation and Around the Globe
In addition to preventing sexual assault in transportation, DOT is also committed to fighting human trafficking by working with public and private sector stakeholders to empower transportation employees and the traveling public to recognize and report possible instances of human trafficking. DOT supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Action Plan (NAP) to Combat Human Trafficking, a whole-of-government approach that prioritizes combating human trafficking through prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnerships. DOT also continues to ensure that states permanently ban drivers convicted of human trafficking from operating a commercial motor vehicle for which a commercial driver’s license or a commercial learner’s permit is required. For more information about the Department’s efforts to end human trafficking, click here.