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

  • San Francisco brewery ordered to stop making beer with CBD

    Economic CTV News
    SAN FRANCISCO -- U.S. officials have ordered a San Francisco brewery to stop producing beer containing cannabidiol, the hemp-derived extract known as CBD. The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is allowing Black Hammer Brewing to sell the rest of the CBD beer it already brewed, including one called Toke Back Mountain. Source
  • Canadian auto sector observers doubt U.S. will carry through on tariff threat

    Economic CTV News
    Canadian auto industry observers are reacting with shock and disbelief to news that U.S. President Donald Trump has ordered an investigation that could result in tariffs of up to 25 per cent on auto sector imports into the United States. Source
  • Trudeau says Trump's threat of auto tariffs would hit U.S. just as hard

    Economic CTV News
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he plans to tell U.S. President Donald Trump that his threat to slap tariffs of up to 25 per cent on vehicle imports would have an "incredibly negative effect" on the American economy. Source
  • Disputed Keystone XL pipeline backed by Trump is focus of court hearing

    Economic CBC News
    Trump administration attorneys were due in a Montana courtroom Thursday to defend the disputed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline against environmental groups and Native American groups that want to derail the project. The 1,800-kilometre line proposed by TransCanada Corporation was rejected in 2015 by former President Barack Obama because of its potential to exacerbate climate change. Source
  • Trump administration defends Keystone XL pipeline in court

    Economic CBC News
    Trump administration attorneys were due in a Montana courtroom Thursday to defend the disputed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline against environmental groups and Native American groups that want to derail the project. The 1,800-kilometre line proposed by TransCanada Corporation was rejected in 2015 by former President Barack Obama because of its potential to exacerbate climate change. Source
  • Facebook won't pay compensation for Cambridge Analytica case

    Economic CTV News
    BRUSSELS -- Facebook says it will not compensate users in the scandal over the misuse of their personal data by political consultancy Cambridge Analytica. The company made the statement Thursday in a list of written replies to questions by European Union lawmakers. Source
  • Canada still wants to work with China despite blocked Aecon takeover: Bains

    Economic CBC News
    Canada is still open to working with China in the future, despite killing the massive takeover of Canadian construction company Aecon Group Inc. by Chinese interests, says Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains. "I'm confident that we'll continue to work together. Source
  • McDonald's not ready to let go of plastic straws

    Economic CBC News
    McDonald's isn't ready to stop offering plastic straws, despite environmental concerns. A shareholder proposal to pressure the world's biggest hamburger chain on the matter was voted down at the company's annual meeting Thursday. The proposal by activist group SumOfUs asked for a report about the "business risks" of using plastic straws at the chain's 37,000 locations globally. Source
  • McDonald's not ready to let go of plastic straws in U.S.

    Economic CTV News
    NEW YORK -- McDonald's isn't ready to stop offering plastic straws, despite environmental concerns. A shareholder proposal to pressure the world's biggest hamburger chain on the matter was voted down at the company's annual meeting Thursday. Source
  • Trump administration explores tariffs on autos, auto parts

    Economic CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration launched an investigation into whether tariffs are needed on the imports of automobiles into the United States, moving swiftly as talks over the North American Free Trade Agreement have stalled. Source