Westjet tries again to dismiss proposed class-action lawsuit alleging discrimination

Former flight attendant claims airline broke contractual promise to create harassment-free workplace

WestJet is asking the Supreme Court of Canada to hear its request to throw out a proposed class-action lawsuit that accuses the airline of sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination.

The court documents filed Thursday, the Calgary-based airline argued the allegations fall within the mandate of the Canadian Human Rights Act, and should be resolved through the human rights tribunal or workers’ compensation board, not through the courts.

READ MORE: Former B.C. flight attendant protests sexual harassment outside YVR, asked to leave

In 2017, former flight attendant Mandalena Lewis disclosed claims that Westjet broke the contractual promise of providing a harassment-free workplace after she alleged a male pilot sexually assaulted her during a stopover in Hawaii in 2010.

The airline has denied it failed to take appropriate action after she brought the sexual assault claims forward.

Lewis’ case has “opened the door for employees to avoid the comprehensive federal human rights regime established by Parliament and bring human rights claims directly to the courts,” the application for leave to appeal read.

The lawsuit, which has yet to be approved by the court as a class-action proceeding, aims to represent all of WestJet’s past and current female flight attendants whose employment contract includes the same promise.

WestJet’s first application to dismiss it was rejected by the B.C. Supreme Court in 2017. The argument was then taken to the B.C. Court of Appeal last February, where a three-judge panel ruled against the airline again.

#METOO AT WORK: Employers play a role in fixing culture of harassment

Black Press Media has reached out to Lewis and the airline for comment.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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