A former American Airlines employee obtained a passenger's contact information from her luggage and proceeded to stalk and sexually harass her, according to a lawsuit and text exchanges between the two.

The man, known as John Doe in the suit, "made it clear that he wanted to have sexual contact" with passenger Ashley Barno of San Diego County, California, according to the civil suit filed in the the county's Superior Court of California on Jan. 6. Barno is suing both American Airlines and the former employee, who was not on duty at the time.

Barno in her suit accuses American Airlines of negligent hiring, supervision and retention, alleging the company knew the employee had the tendency to behave this way. She says that she has had problems sleeping, eating and socializing since the incident, suffering emotional harm.

"American Airlines takes the privacy and safety of our customers seriously," American Airlines spokesperson Ree Maki told USA TODAY in a statement. "We investigated the allegations and took appropriate action. The employee involved in the complaint is no longer employed at American Airlines."

"Airline employees should know that they should never contact customers outside of their professional relationship," Barno's attorney, Joseph Samo, told USA TODAY in a statement. 


Samo provided USA TODAY with screenshots of the text exchange.


"Hey Ashley!" the man starts off the conversation saying, and she quickly says she isn't sure who this is. "I met you the other day at the airport," he adds, then calls her "gorgeous." She thanks him and learns he works for American.


"How did you get my number?" she asks, and he responds that she gave it to him. "I'm so confused right now, lol," she answered back.

In the exchange, the former employee proceeds to describe Barno's outfit and repeatedly offers to get her a better seat on the plane. She responds by expressing her concern and writes "This is uncomfortable."

She inquires multiple times about how he got her number, and he tells her he got it from her bag tag in San Diego. He also says he wants her to sit next to him on the flight. "Not ok! Not cool," she says, and asks that he leave her alone.

Barno told NBC San Diego she asked a flight attendant for help, who said the man indeed was an employee. "I called my sister, and I was crying profusely because I just felt… I mean, the best way to describe it was, I felt naked in a public place," she told the outlet.

USA TODAY has reached out to Barno for more details.

Barno is seeking unspecified damages, including attorney's fees.

"A victim can be shaken up and traumatized for months after an event," Samo also said in a statement. "It seems to us that American Airlines felt the situation was resolved when she returned safely back to San Diego. I don't believe they realized the emotional effect would last much longer than the threat to her physical safety."

"No one should respond to phone calls or texts from unknown numbers until they are 100% certain of the identity of the caller," Samo added.