Southwest employee hospitalized after alleged assault by passenger

A Southwest Airlines passenger "verbally and physically" assaulted a female operations agent, who was hospitalized after the incident on Saturday.

Southwest Airlines confirmed the incident in a statement to The Hill on Sunday. The airline noted that the agent was not a flight attendant as some other reports had indicated. 

The airline said that the assault happened during the boarding process for a flight from Dallas to New York City's LaGuardia Airport.

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The employee who was assaulted was taken to a hospital. She was released Saturday night and went home to rest, according to the airline's statement.

"Our entire Southwest Family is wishing her a speedy and full recovery as we send our thoughts, prayers, and love to her," the statement said of the agent. "Southwest Airlines maintains a zero-tolerance policy regarding any type of harassment or assault and fully support our Employee as we cooperate with local authorities regarding this unacceptable incident."

The female passenger who assaulted the agent was taken into custody by local law enforcement officers.

Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it would propose more than $225,000 in fines for 10 airline passengers accused of assault. In its statement, the agency noted that it has had more than 100 reports of passenger disturbances since the start of this year. 

Some of those unruly passengers' behavior included Southwest customers who refused to comply with the airline's face mask policy, intentionally elbowed or kicked a flight attendant, spat on crew member, or attempted to enter the cockpit, among other disturbances.

Amid the uptick in behavioral problems on flights, six Democratic lawmakers wrote to the Department of Justice to ask that Attorney General Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandThe Memo: Trump's justices look set to restrict abortion House progressives urge Garland to intervene in ex-environmental lawyer Steven Donziger's case Garland orders DOJ to prioritize violence on airplanes MORE prosecute passengers who cause issues. 

"It is well documented that our nation has witnessed a sharp increase in air and airport confrontational behavior, particularly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic," the letter said earlier this month.