WestJet employees speak out in wake of pilot sex assault allegations

Current and former WestJet employees are raising troubling concerns about the airline’s workplace culture, days after a lawsuit was filed alleging the company told a flight attendant to stay quiet about being sexually assaulted by a pilot.

See Full Article

In her suit, Mandalena Lewis claims she was kissed and groped against her will by a man identified only as “Pilot M” during a layover at the Makena Beach Resort in Hawaii in January 2010.

Lewis said she reported the incident to WestJet, but the airline failed to investigate it. Instead, she alleges WestJet told her to “keep quiet” then adjusted the pilot’s schedule so he wouldn’t be arrested by Hawaiian authorities.

On Thursday, one current employee, who asked not to be identified to protect her job, told CTV News the lawsuit has left some WestJet workers feeling unprotected.

“WestJet dropped the ball. Our people were not taken care of,” she said.

“Flight attendants are… fearful that the company has allowed this to go unchecked for as long as it has.”

She said employees are also afraid that speaking out within the company will result in retribution.

“Management has outright said that they will expunge people who are causing disruption within the workplace, and that people who are questioning the system are no longer welcome,” she said.

Lewis claims she was fired in January, almost eight years after she started with WestJet, for demanding the airline explain how it had investigated her alleged assault.

Another flight attendant, Daniel Kufuor-Boakye, was fired a few days after Lewis. He told CTV News they were both involved in a union drive, and he believes that may have played a role in their dismissals.

“Something to instill fear in people whose voice may be used to bring a union into a company,” Kufuor-Boakye said.

In the wake of Lewis’s allegations, an online petition has also been launched calling on WestJet’s CEO to step down. By Thursday evening, more than 12,000 people had signed.

CTV News has also learned of six other women alleging they've been sexually assaulted, and who have requested the contact information for Lewis's lawyer.

On Thursday, the airline released a statement saying it takes the employees’ allegations very seriously.

“We are committed to maintaining a safe and healthy workplace environment, and encourage our employees to report any behaviour that may violate our policies,” WestJet said in an email.

The company has also pledged to “vigorously defend the allegations” in Lewis’s lawsuit, but has yet to file a statement of defence in the case.

None of the claims against the airline have been proven in court.

With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Mi-Jung Lee



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Sentencing hearing for mom who 'gambled away' son's life with holistic medicine

    Canada News CTV News
    CALGARY - Sentencing arguments are to be heard today for a woman who treated her son with holistic remedies before he died of a strep infection. Tamara Lovett was found guilty in January of criminal negligence causing death. Source
  • Trapped girl a symbol for Mexico's earthquake rescue efforts

    World News CBC News
    A delicate effort to reach a young girl buried in the rubble of her school stretched into a daylong vigil for Mexico, much of it broadcast across the nation as rescue workers still struggled in rain and darkness early Thursday trying to pick away unstable debris and reach her. Source
  • Trapped girl a symbol of Mexico's quake rescue efforts

    World News CTV News
    MEXICO CITY -- A delicate effort to reach a young girl buried in the rubble of her school stretched into a daylong vigil for Mexico, much of it broadcast across the nation as rescue workers still struggled in rain and darkness early Thursday trying to pick away unstable debris and reach her. Source
  • UN mission in Congo faces reckoning over sex abuse scandal

    World News CTV News
    BUNIA, Congo - The Congolese orphan girl haunts the UN's top human rights official, even though more than a decade has passed since he heard her story. It was a big day in this town in northeastern Congo: A top UN delegation was paying a high-profile visit. Source
  • Germany jails Syrian refugee over UN observer's abduction

    World News CBC News
    A German court has convicted a Syrian refugee of being an accessory to a war crime against humanitarian operations over his participation in the 2013 kidnapping of a United Nations observer. The Stuttgart state court Wednesday sentenced the defendant, who has been identified only as Suliman Al-S. Source
  • South Korea to resume aid to North Korea, but doesn't set timeline

    World News CTV News
    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - South Korea on Thursday decided to resume humanitarian aid to North Korea to help children and pregnant women, but didn't determine when to provide the $8 million worth of assistance amid tensions created by Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests. Source
  • More charges, new defendant in Texas human smuggling case

    World News CTV News
    SAN ANTONIO - The driver of a semitrailer found outside a San Antonio Walmart in July packed with immigrants, including 10 who died, faces additional charges in the smuggling case and another defendant has now been charged, federal officials said Wednesday. Source
  • Hurricane Maria destroys homes, triggers flooding in Puerto Rico

    World News CBC News
    The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years destroyed hundreds of homes, knocked out power across the entire island and turned some streets into raging rivers Wednesday in an onslaught that could plunge the U.S. Source
  • A stunned Puerto Rico seeks to rebuild after Hurricane Maria

    World News CBC News
    The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years destroyed hundreds of homes, knocked out power across the entire island and turned some streets into raging rivers Wednesday in an onslaught that could plunge the U.S. Source
  • At UN, Myanmar tries to reassure the world over Rohingya crisis

    World News CTV News
    Myanmar tried to reassure the world Wednesday about its handling of the mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh and said it is committed to resolving sectarian tensions in the strife-hit region. The Southeast Asian nation is facing accusations of ethnic cleansing and "savagery" by its security forces. Source