Former United Employee Who Shoved Elderly Man To Ground Is Suing

No, you’re not reading that headline wrong.

In June I shared the video footage of a July 2015 incident where a United employee shoved a passenger to the ground at a check-in facility at Houston Airport. While the passenger and customer service agent had different perspectives on what happened (we’ll get into that in a bit), here’s a video of the incident:

United investigated this incident within weeks of when it occurred, and the customer service agent ended up being fired. Only a couple of years later did the passenger file a lawsuit, though, presumably trying to piggyback off Dr. Dao’s settlement. So while we knew about that lawsuit, there’s now a further development in the case.

The former United customer service agent in the above video, Alejandro Anastasia, is suing for a million dollars, claiming he was assaulted by the passenger and that United failed to provide proper training and a safe work environment.

So, how do the two stories compare? Both passengers agree that the incident started when the passenger had an “illegible” boarding pass and was turned away from the TSA checkpoint because he needed a new one. That’s when he approached the customer service agent, where the above incident started.

Per NBC News, here’s how the two versions of the story differ. According to the passenger:

According to Tigner’s suit, he asked the United employees for a new boarding pass, but Anastasia and Phillips-Allred allegedly refused, “laughed” and “cursed” at the passenger, before Anastasia pushed him down.

Meanwhile according to the former customer service agent:

In Anastasia’s version of the encounter, he told TODAY that Tigner approached him telling him that United needed to “hire people that speak English,” after an employee at the ticket counter had trouble understanding him.

“The lady behind the counter didn’t understand me, didn’t really speak very good English,” Tigner said. He then sought out Anastasia’s help fixing his ticket.

In court documents, Anastasia claimed that Tigner began shouting profanities and using racial slurs during their conversation.

Tigner denies using racial slurs.

Anastasia said he outstretched his arms and backed away after Tigner “got in [his] face” and stepped on his toe, according to court documents.

Here’s a video interview with both parties:

Obviously I don’t know exactly what happened (and I doubt anyone does), though I do have a few observations based on the video:

  • I imagine the passenger really was raising his voice and perhaps being aggressive, because the third customer service agent walks over shortly after he approaches the other two, presumably because he’s being loud; I don’t think she would have done that if he were just asking a question quietly
  • Obviously we don’t know whether or not he used any racial slurs
  • The passenger does seem to “flail” his hands a bit in a way that could be perceived as somewhat aggressive

All that being said, there’s absolutely zero justification for him to be pushed to the ground. ZERO. Even using the customer service agent’s explanation, he claims he “outstretched his arms.” Um, if you feel like someone is being aggressive, why don’t you back away from them rather than “outstretching your arms” (aka pushing them to the ground)?

Furthermore, if he never intended to throw the guy to the ground, why didn’t he offer to assist him as soon as he fell down, rather than walking away?

Even if we believe the passenger was being aggressive, there’s simply zero excuse for what happened. Customer service agents should be trained in deescalating situations. So maybe he’s onto something with his lawsuit, in claiming that United doesn’t provide proper training to their employees. In my opinion it’s perhaps more reflective of their corporate culture and lack of hiring skills than specific training, though.

What do you think? Does the former United customer service agent’s story add up?

Comments

  1. Looks like the old guy gets pushed over to me – and that is where it ends for Mr Anastasia. I’ve actively avoided United for my upcoming travel within the US, I’d never have used them internationally anyway. They MUST have lost business as result of all the negative press this year.

  2. Based on a string of recent incidents, it seems UA does provide training. The CSRs and FAs seem to be specifically trained in customer abuse.

    But perhaps what Mr. Anastasia is requesting is WWE take down moves, and MMA lessons. 😉

  3. Whenever I’m confronted by anyone, no matter how passively or how aggressively, I always bring my hands to my chest, palms out, and then back away by staying firmly in place and thrusting my palms into the chest of the aggressor, causing him to fall to the ground and get knocked out.

    After they’re knocked unconscious, I don’t go to their aid, but I leave them laying there, not knowing how badly hurt they may be.

    Isn’t that how everyone “backs away?”

  4. Obviously he’s some racist. That doesn’t excuse the agents behavior, but I’m sure the old guy did use racial slurs. The Hispanic agent is not gonna throw him to the ground for no reason.

  5. @ben – I agree with you, if the fall to the ground was unintentional then any reasonable person would have gone to help out. That’s disturbing. Even more disturbing is that no one else went to his aid. So maybe that adds intrigue to this counter suit…

  6. “…a United employee shoved a passenger to the ground…”

    Uh, correction needed here. “Ground” refers to the surface of the Earth outdoors. The surface that people walk on inside a building is not the ground – it is the FLOOR. So the passenger was shoved to the floor, not the ground.

    Just thought I’d put that out there. Yo can all hate me now!

  7. This united former employee shows whats wrong with the culture at united. He feels so entitled that only he is right and everyone else is wrong. Only such a person who after pushing an old man to the floor and leaving him to die, can still sue and claim he is right. Dr Dao’s incident is not isolation. It starts with the CEO, and the way he handled Dr Dao’s matter is the epitome of United’s culture, and this ex agent is no exception. If not for the video proof, we can be sure united will blame the customer again.

  8. @yvonne – I’ll disagree with you there. While the US, unfortunately, has prominence in poor behavior for a number of reasons, we do not fit the stereotype. This type of behavior is not our cultural norm nor should Americans be defined, as a culture, as of such poor repute.

  9. This happened in Houston. Hopefully, any trial will be in Houston. Texas justice (and southern hospitality) will prevail. Anastasia is going down, down, down. And…..his Union did not back him up?

  10. @Abe

    Could you share your powers that allow you to definitively determine if someone is a racist. The passenger could have simply used vulgarities like “you dumb asses” or even rude behavior by calling him useless or stupid and received the same level of customer service.

  11. He shoved the guy end of story. Its not justified. I’m sure the guy was a prick to him, but that doesn’t give him right to shove the guy.

  12. Looks like both the victim and perv are douche bags.
    And not surprised the douche had worked for Oscar.

  13. A waiter works at a restaurant beat up a customer because customer complained about the food. Restaurant fired the employees and then employee sued the restaurant owner for not providing training on how to handle irate customer.

  14. Does not matter what or who we believe …… It s what the courts believe when it comes to paying out the cash…..!!

  15. Can’t believe there exists a lawyer who accepts a case like this. Then again in America it’s always the employer’s fault.

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