Saturday, March 12, 2016

WestJet employees come forward as review launched in wake of sexual assault claim: 'We are taking their concerns extremely seriously,' says WestJet spokesperson

WestJet says several employees have come forward in the wake of accusations that the airline failed to properly handle an allegation of sexual assault.

In an email to CBC News, WestJet spokesperson Lauren Stewart said "a number of employees," have now come forward, adding, "we are taking their concerns extremely seriously."

Stewart did not say how many employees are involved or describe the nature of their comments, citing privacy laws. 

She said the airline has taken "firm and decisive." steps following a complaint from Mandalena (Mandy) Lewis, a former WestJet flight attendant, who is suing her former employer.

In a civil suit filed in B.C. Supreme Court, Lewis claims she was sexually assaulted by a pilot in 2010 during a layover in Hawaii. She alleges the airline protected the pilot and fired her instead.

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

On Friday, WestJet announced that it has hired auditing firm Ernst and Young to review its reporting procedures and practices.

In the email to CBC, Stewart said the airline has encouraged WestJet employees to come forward.  

Airline 'reached out' to employees

"We engaged several teams at WestJet to immediately begin re-investigating the allegations, and we reached out to our employees to encourage anyone with information about the allegations or any other behavior that violates our respectful workplace policies to come forward," she said.

Stewart said she didn't know when the report will be complete but added that its recommendations will be made public.

Last week, WestJet president and CEO Gregg Saretsky posted a statement to the company's blog, writing that WestJet would be in court defending the lawsuit launched by Lewis.

In a statement Friday, Saretsky said, "the broader issues of sexual assault and harassment in the workplace that were raised are matters we take most seriously."

Original article can be found here:

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