WestJet is facing renewed calls for a change of leadership, as the airline faces a new class action lawsuit alleging widespread failure to prevent sexual harassment.
Former flight attendant Mandalena Lewis launched a lawsuit suit last month alleging she’d been assaulted by a pilot and that the airline had failed to act.
Today, she filed to expand that as a class action to cover other flight attendants, alleging a breach of contract and claiming “WestJet has routinely and systematically denied its female Flight Attendants the benefit of [its] Anti-Harassment Promise, particularly when Pilots are the harassers.”
The suit further claims “WestJet fosters a corporate culture that overlooks and effectively tolerates Harassment, encourages silence, fails to properly investigate complaints … and resolves complaints by protecting the harassers.”
Calls for change
Emma Pullman with the group Sum-Of-Us, says the suit shows the need for WestJet to send a strong message with a major overhaul at the top.
“It doesn’t surprise me because I also was contacted by current and former employees who had experienced harassment and assault at the company, and so I had an inkling that this was just tip of the iceberg.”
She says the allegations that the problem is systemic, rather than a one-off incident indicate the problem lies at the executive level within the airline.
“The common thread here is senior management that allowed these alleged assaults to continue without adequately taking steps to keep the workplace safe.”
Pullman says a petition launched by her group calling for CEO Gregg Sarestky to step down has garnered more than 28,000 signatures. She says 15,000 of those who signed claim to be WestJet Passengers.
WestJet says it hasn’t seen the class action suit and thus can’t comment on it.
However, Saretsky has previously said the company takes sexual harassment seriously, and was taking a second look at a previous internal investigation of the issue.
The suit has yet to be certified as a class action.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.