WestJet takes two employees out of flying duty in wake of sex-assault allegation

CALGARY -- WestJet has grounded two employees after a lawsuit was filed by a former flight attendant that contends the company failed to take proper action after she alleged she was sexually assaulted by a pilot.

See Full Article

Airline spokeswoman Lauren Stewart said in an email that two employees mentioned in the court filings have been taken out of active flying duty while the company reviews investigations it conducted into allegations of sexual assault.

CEO Gregg Saretsky said in a statement posted online Friday that the employees were removed from service because of concern about their well-being and the safe operation of the airline.

Former flight attendant Mandalena Lewis launched a lawsuit against the Calgary-based airline arguing the company failed to respond adequately after she reported an alleged sexual assault by a pilot during a stopover six years ago in Hawaii.

Lewis said in a statement of claim filed with the B.C. Supreme Court that she met another flight attendant last year who reported being sexually assaulted by the same pilot and was allegedly told by WestJet to keep quiet.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. The company has not filed a statement of defence but has said it intends to fight the lawsuit.

Saretsky said in his statement that he takes seriously his responsibility to the airline's more than 11,000 workers.

"Every company has a responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of all its employees, and this is a responsibility we take most seriously at WestJet," Saretsky wrote.

"As a husband, father of a daughter and brother to a sister I understand how important it is to get this right, no matter the role or gender of the complainant."

Saretsky said WestJet has an active whistleblower hotline and safety-reporting system, and that employees are encouraged to raise concerns with management.

Lewis's statement of claim says she was staying overnight in Hawaii in 2010 when an unnamed WestJet pilot allegedly pulled her onto a hotel bed and proceeded to kiss and grope her.

She said she felt "demoralized, frustrated and degraded" by the airline's response after she reported the alleged incident, especially after learning it had allegedly received a similar complaint against the same pilot two years earlier.

Lewis also accused the company of firing her earlier this year in response to her repeated requests to view her employee file to determine how the company had responded to her complaint.

By Geordon Omand in Vancouver



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Valeant says California judge gives preliminary approval to Allergan settlement

    Economic CTV News
    LAVAL, Que. - Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. says a U.S. District Court judge gave his preliminary approval Tuesday to a US$290-million settlement of lawsuits stemming from the unsuccessful attempted hostile takeover in 2014 of Botox maker Allergan Inc. Source
  • With a US$6B charge comes new thoughts about GE's future

    Economic CTV News
    BOSTON -- General Electric Co. is signalling it may undergo a more comprehensive transformation, a decade after breaking off substantial pieces of the multinational conglomerate in bid to a return it to its industrial roots. Source
  • Carillion Canada says it's soldiering on despite U.K. parent's financial woes

    Economic CBC News
    A spokesman for the Canadian subsidiary of insolvent British construction giant and state contractor Carillion says it's business as usual in Canada despite the parent company's collapse on Monday. Cody Johnstone says that Carillion Canada is not in liquidation and its 6,000 employees in Canada continue to be paid, along with its subcontractors and suppliers. Source
  • McDonald's sets worldwide recycling goals

    Economic CTV News
    NEW YORK -- McDonald's says it aims to use all recycled or other environmentally friendly materials for its soda cups, Happy Meal boxes and other packaging by 2025. The world's biggest burger chain also wants all of its 37,000 restaurants worldwide to recycle customer waste by that year. Source
  • Canadian natural gas industry a 'sad story': analyst

    Economic CBC News
    A prominent commodities analyst struck a gloomy tone as he delivered a blunt assessment of the Canadian natural gas industry's fortunes this year, describing it as a "sad story." In front of a few hundred oilpatch members at the Calgary Petroleum Club in the city's downtown, commodities analyst Martin King admitted his Tuesday morning presentation for gas was one of his most negative. Source
  • Nutrien to sell Israel Chemical stake for expected US$700 million

    Economic CTV News
    SASKATOON -- Fertilizer giant Nutrien Ltd. says it plans to sell all of its holdings in Israel Chemicals Ltd. in a secondary share offering for an expected US$700 million. The sale comes as one of the requirements set out by global regulators for Potash Corp. Source
  • Australia files WTO complaint against Canadian wine sales measures

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - Australia has filed a complaint about Canada's rules around wine sales with the World Trade Organization. The complaint filed Friday argues that Canada's distribution, licensing and sales measures discriminate against imported wine. Source
  • Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax

    Economic CTV News
    OTTAWA -- A trade association for Canada's beer industry wants the federal government to stop its plan to annually increase a tax on the alcoholic drink. Beer Canada has launched a new campaign calling on Canadians to sign a petition asking Finance Minister Bill Morneau to axe the escalating beer tax. Source
  • Instacart buy Unata as it plans Canadian expansion

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- American grocery delivery service Instacart says it has bought Toronto-based technology company Unata to ramp up its expansion efforts across Canada. Instacart's chief business officer Nilam Ganenthiran says the acquisition gives the company access to Unata's digital flyer, loyalty, e-catering and list-building capabilities. Source
  • Australia complains to WTO about Canadian rules on selling wine

    Economic CBC News
    Australia has complained at the World Trade Organization about the rules applied to the sale of wine by Canada and various Canadian provinces, a WTO filing showed on Tuesday. "It appears that a range of distribution, licensing and sales measures such as product markups, market access and listing policies, as well as duties and taxes on wine applied at the federal and provincial level may discriminate, either directly or indirectly, against imported wine," Australia said. Source