Charles “Chilly” Ewing was fired from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport after a city report concluded he had sexually harassed multiple women there. He had been the director of concessions.
Photo: Yamanouchi, Kelly (CMG-Atlanta)
Photo: Yamanouchi, Kelly (CMG-Atlanta)

Atlanta airport concessions director fired for sexual harassment

An executive at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has been fired for allegedly sexually harassing multiple women who worked there.

Charles E. “Chilly” Ewing, Sr., the airport’s director of concessions, created a hostile work environment, an investigation by the City of Atlanta’s Office of Labor and Employee Relations concluded. Ewing made unwanted sexual advances, touched women inappropriately and displayed sexually suggestive objects, the city report found.

In a May 23 letter to Ewing obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through an open records request, the city’s deputy commissioner of human resources said Ewing was being terminated for violating the city’s sexual harassment policy. Ewing told The AJC he resigned.

Investigators interviewed six female employees and Ewing, who has denied any wrongdoing.

One employee, who worked for Ewing, said she reported an incident to the airport’s assistant general manager Paul Brown in which Ewing made a donation for a fund-raising effort she was pursuing. She said when she got up to hug him, he kissed her on the cheek and asked for a kiss, and after she said no, he kissed her on the lips, according to the report.

That employee and four others interviewed claimed Ewing made inappropriate comments and cited other suspect behavior. A sixth employee said she witnessed a conversation between Ewing and another female employee that she “was disturbed by,” according to the investigative report.

The report concluded that interviews and testimony “substantiated that Mr. Ewing created a hostile work environment and committed offenses rising to the level of sexual harassment as alleged by the complainants. These allegations were corroborated by multiple complainants through independent testimony.”

“Interviews substantiated that Mr. Ewing had inappropriate conversations of a sexual nature objected to by the complainants, made unwanted sexual advances, made repeated sexual jokes, flirtations, advances or propositions, made unwanted sexual advances, made repeated sexual jokes, flirtations, advances or propositions, made graphic, verbal commentary about an individual’s body, sexual prowess or sexual deficiencies, displayed sexually suggestive objects, pictures or adult-themed gifts in the workplace and inappropriately touched, all of which are violations of the City of Atlanta’s Sexual Harassment Policy.”

It recommended Ewing be terminated.

The city’s sexual harassment policy says it is illegal and against city policies for an employee, contractor or vendor to sexually harass another employee, contractor, vendor or customer. The city late last year updated its policies on sexual harassment, anti-fraternization, equal employment opportunity, anti-bullying and workplace violence.

Ewing, according to the investigative report, “denies having any inappropriate conversations with anyone.”

“Ewing says he is not the predator that these statements make him out to be,” the report said.

Ewing told the interviewer he “has complimented women on looking nice but has never talked about their bodies,” according to the report.

The report also said Ewing “denies ever questioning anyone’s sex life, nor has he never offered to pay anyone for sex or offered to take care of them financially.”

“Mr. Ewing say he is not trying to have sex with anyone,” the report said. “He claims to only want to take care of his family.”

Ewing had worked for the airport from 1996 until he retired in December 2010 as interim director of concessions. He was rehired as concessions director in 2015 at a salary of $109,000.

The airport department where Ewing worked has seen turnover in recent years. Brown, the previous concessions director, left the airport in 2014 and was rehired in 2017. Brown became the airport’s assistant general manager of commercial development last year, succeeding Cortez Carter, who was terminated after revelations of a possible conflict of interest involving his wife who owns a company that does business in Washington with an Atlanta airport concessionaire.

Kyle Mastin, a longtime manager in the concessions department, is now interim concessions director. The airport is preparing for a massive round of concessions contracting, as it rebids contracts for restaurants and shops that were put on hold amid a federal investigation into Atlanta City Hall and as the city revamped its procurement process.

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