Ex-United employee files counterclaim over fallout from alleged assault incident

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A former United employee has filed suit over the fallout from an altercation with an elderly passenger at Bush Intercontinental Airport.

The litigation stems from a 2015 incident between passenger Ronald Tigner and then-United employee Alejandro Anastasia.

Anastasia claimed the elderly man, Ronald Tigner, was belligerent and began to yell racial slurs at Anastasia and other United employees working the ticket counter because of an issue with his boarding pass. Anastasia claimed Tigner put his face "within inches" of Anastasia's and refused to step away when asked, leaving Anastasia with no choice but to "physically remove Tigner from his personal space."

In a June lawsuit, Tigner claimed the actions of Anastasia and another employee left him "suddenly, unexpectedly and violently injured."

When Tigner filed suit against United over the incident earlier this summer, the airline called Anastasia's conduct "completely unacceptable" and said the company is "taking a thorough look into what happened here and reaching out to our customer to profusely apologize for what occurred and to make this right."

In his suit, Anastasia alleges that United failed to provide necessary training to keep employees safe during altercations with passengers.

"United has no policies, procedures or guidelines in place at the time of this incident for how its employees were to act or respond in a situation where a customer is abusive and assaultive towards its employees," the lawsuit reads.

United confirmed Anastasia was terminated in August as a direct result of the incident. A criminal complaint against Anastasia was eventually dismissed, and he said was never re-hired.

Anastasia, who said he has struggled to find work since his termination, is looking for more than $1 million in damages. He also said he was not personally responsible for litigation against the company and asked for complete indemnification from resulting legal action related to the case.

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