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WestJet denies employee allegations of sexual assault

WestJet has denied allegations from an ex-employee who says that the airline did not take action after she was sexually assaulted. The former employee claims that a pilot sexually assaulted her in 2010 while they were on a stopover in Hawaii.

The Calgary-based airline filed its statement of defence in British Columbia Supreme Court on Tuesday. The airline says that it carried out an internal investigation after the woman complained of the sexual assault. However, the company said that it could not verify conclusively that its pilot had assaulted the woman.

Earlier this month, the woman filed a claim, saying that the pilot invited her to his room after they had been drinking. There, the pilot allegedly kissed and groped the woman after pulling her into bed. However, WestJet claims that even though the company did not conclude that a sexual assault occurred, partying, excessive drinking and otherwise fraternising with flight attendants falls out of alignment with the company's professional standards. As a result, WestJet said that it suspended the pilot.

In addition to the above allegations, the ex-flight attendant for WestJet is also alleging breach of contract and wrongful dismissal. The woman says that she was wrongfully terminated as a result of repeated requests she made to look at her employee file. She said she wanted to see the file to determine what the company had done regarding her complaints of sexual assault.

So far, neither the plaintiff nor the defence's statements in court have been definitively proved. Therefore, it remains to be seen how this case will end. If the woman is able to successfully prove that she was dismissed wrongfully and that the dismissal was associated with her sexual assault, she will likely have a strong claim for damages related to lost income, lost opportunity, pain and suffering and other damages. Similar cases can be pursued in the Calgary civil courts.

Source: Toronto Sun, "WestJet denies sex-assault claims from former B.C. flight attendant," March 22, 2016

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