Former Boeing employee files lawsuit alleging sexual assault, harassment after her transition

A former Boeing crane mechanic has filed a lawsuit against the aircraft giant claiming that she was subjected to relentless sexual harassment and mistreatment after she openly transitioned.

According to Jay Free, a lawyer for Rachel Rasmussen, she worked for Boeing for 35 years. Free said Rasmussen felt safe there for over two decades and was even welcomed with open arms when she was promoted to crane mechanic to an all-male team in 2007. 

Rasmussen was assigned male at birth, and presented as such up until she began her transition to live consistent with her gender identity in 2010, according to her lawyer. 

When she began her transition in that year, and up until she left the company, Free said "Boeing employees and managers intimidated, targeted, and harassed her because of her gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation." 

Free highlighted a few instances of the harassment Rasmussen allegedly endured: 

  • A coworker stuck a broom handle between her legs from behind
  • An employee "sneaking up behind Rachel and grabbing her buttocks"
  • Employees hurling homophobic slurs, including an instance during a diversity training
  • Cornering her and asking about her genitals
  • "Comparing transgender people to pedophiles, with at least six Boeing employees openly endorsing this comparison"
  • Simulating how sex is "supposed" to be using nuts and bolts.

"Over the years, Rachel repeatedly reported the harassment to senior Boeing leaders and human resources (HR). But Boeing did not protect Rachel or other employees. On one occasion, Boeing HR told Rachel that they needed to give her fellow employees time to adjust to her gender transition. Boeing HR also allowed their employees to out Rachel as transgender—despite her pleas that this jeopardized her safety. Every time a new employee joined the team, Rachel’s co-workers outed her as a transgender. Her coworkers even shared before-and-after pictures," Free's law firm wrote in a press release. 

Rasmussen said the treatment left her feeling anxious, physically sick and fearing for her safety. She said at one point, she considered suicide to escape the mistreatment. 

"Boeing falsely claims they are creating a culture of inclusion," said Free. "This lawsuit shows the real Boeing, one where anti-gay and sexist culture thrives, causing real harm to working people here in Washington state."

"I loved my job as a crane mechanic, and I worked hard to change the culture from the inside so everyone could enjoy an inclusive non-retaliatory workplace. After a decade of harassment and internal systems not working, it is my hope this lawsuit can bring meaningful change to both Boeing and all Washington workplaces. Every employee should feel safe and respected on the job," Rasmussen said. 

Boeing told FOX 13 that they did not wish to comment on this lawsuit and the allegations within it. 

If you are considering harming yourself, know you are not alone and help is available to you.

  • The National Suicide Hotline is 988. You can call or text that number 24/7.
  • You can reach a specialized LGBTQIA+ affirming counselor by texting "Q" to 988 or by pressing "3" when you call.
  • For LGBTQ youths, trained counselors are available 24/7 at The Trevor Project. Text ‘START’ to 678-678 or call 1-866-488-7386.
  • The LGBT National Hotline for support is 1-888-843-4564.