Former WestJet flight attendant sued for sexual assault by pilot
WestJet is being sued by a former flight attendant, who alleges a pilot sexually assaulted her during a layover in Hawaii.
Former employee Mandalena Lewis claims the airline failed to provide a safe working environment for flight attendants, and now a class action lawsuit against the company has been certified by the British Court of Appeals British Columbia.
The original lawsuit was filed in 2016 but, after the bid failed in the BC Supreme Court, the latest judgment means the decision has been overturned and it can now pursue its class action lawsuit against WestJet .
According to CBC, Lewis also has a separate lawsuit against the airline, alleging WestJet failed to take appropriate action after reporting her sexual assault. She claims the company fired her and chose to protect the pilot.
What are the complaints?
According to the most recent judgment – released April 19 – Lewis claims WestJet breached a number of clauses in its employment contracts by “failing to design, implement and maintain a workplace program to fight against bullying.
She also claims that WestJet has “consistently and consistently denied its flight attendants the benefit of the Anti-harassment Pledge, particularly when the pilots are the harassers.”
The ruling added that WestJet fosters a corporate culture that “effectively ignores and condones harassment, encourages silence, fails to properly investigate complaints of harassment, and resolves complaints by protecting harassers.”
Her claims are that because of the company’s conduct, it is violating its contracts with female employees.
Certified class action
According to the ruling, his original request to have the lawsuit certified as a class action was denied because the previous judge concluded that “proceedings in the Human Rights Tribunal would be preferable to a class action.”
Lewis challenged the dismissal in the Court of Appeal, and it is now certified.
The Court of Appeal judge said the Human Rights Tribunal also presents “various substantive and procedural access to justice concerns that are not present in a class action, making ‘a class action the preferable procedure’.
Lewis now has the chance to bring his class action lawsuits against WestJet to court. The claims have not yet been proven in court and WestJet must also defend against the claims in court.