A former flight attendant has filed a civil suit against WestJet, claiming the airline failed to “adequately investigate” an alleged sexual assault.
Mandalena Lewis of Vancouver alleges she was sexually assaulted by a pilot during a layover in Hawaii in January 2010.
In a statement of claim filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Lewis says she reported the incident to WestJet, but the airline “failed to adequately investigate or respond to the plaintiff’s report following the sexual assault.”
Lewis says WestJet responded by changing her schedule so she didn’t have to work with the pilot. The Calgary-based airline allegedly told her the pilot was no longer allowed to fly to Hawaii. Lewis also says she was told to keep quiet about the incident.
Lewis says she later spoke with another flight attendant in 2015 who claimed to have been assaulted by the same pilot in 2008.
The claim says, “WestJet knew at least by 2008 that the pilot was a danger to other employees and WestJet had failed to remove him from the workplace or place conditions on his employment that protected employees like the plaintiff who were working alongside and under him.”
In the suit, Lewis says she went on short-term disability leave due to stress and was fired by the airline this January for “insubordination.”
In a statement to Global News, a spokesperson for the airline said:
“WestJet does not comment on ongoing legal proceedings but confirms it will file a statement of defence in which it will vigorously defend the allegations contained in the claim.
“WestJet further confirms its commitment to maintaining a safe and harassment-free environment for its employees and guests and takes its obligations in this respect with the utmost seriousness.”
None of the claims have been proven in court.
Police in Hawaii have told Global News the case remains open.