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Nov 9, 2017

WestJet asks B.C. court to toss proposed class action that alleges harassment

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VANCOUVER — WestJet (WJA.TO) is asking a B.C. Supreme Court today to throw out a proposed class-action lawsuit that accuses the company of failing to provide a harassment-free workplace for female employees.

The airline's lawyer, Don Dear, says the lawsuit is an abuse of process that would be better dealt with through a human rights tribunal and workers' compensation board.

Former flight attendant Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination, accusing her former employer of fostering a corporate culture that tolerates harassment against its female employees.

WestJet says its opposition to Lewis's lawsuit is not a defence of poor behaviour or sexual harassment, but it believes the allegations are being heard in the wrong venue.

Lewis filed an earlier lawsuit against the airline saying she had been sexually assaulted by a pilot while on a stopover in Hawaii in 2010.

WestJet rejected allegations that it failed to take appropriate action after she reported the incident.

The Calgary-based airline's statement of defence said it immediately launched an internal investigation into Lewis's complaint, but the company was ultimately unable to conclude the pilot had committed an assault.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.