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Nasty sexual assault lawsuit against Westjet


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The following is strange:

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According to Ms. Lewis’s statement of claim, Pilot M invited her and the rest of his flight crew back to his room for drinks during a layover in Maui, Hawaii, in January, 2010. Team spirit is promoted by the company, the court document says, and “as part of that team spirit, socializing on layovers is common and encouraged by WestJet and this often involves alcohol.”

  I see in the story that the alleged incident took place in 2010, you do have to wonder why so long between the alleged incident and the suit.  Not saying that the incident didn't happen but....... that of course will be decided when the case is heard. One other point, the current CEO was appointed in April 2010 so I am not sure how he would be held accountable for actions in Jan of that year. 

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29 minutes ago, Malcolm said:

The following is strange:

  I see in the story that the alleged incident took place in 2010, you do have to wonder why so long between the alleged incident and the suit.  Not saying that the incident didn't happen but....... that of course will be decided when the case is heard. One other point, the current CEO was appointed in April 2010 so I am not sure how he would be held accountable for actions in Jan of that year. 

A lot has transpired since the alleged event where action should have been taken on a number of fronts. Assuming something like this happened, a number of policy measures should have been triggered that would have dealt with such an allegation decisively. It would certainly not be enough to bar a pilot accused of sexual assault from flying to the one destination where he might have been arrested.

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This was on the 6 o'clock news in YVR as well.

The reason for the 6 year delay is that (1) it appears to have been triggered by the F/A being fired and (2) the F/A was told by the company to keep it in-house. Apparently she did, until she was fired.

Malcolm, the one item I think is 'strange' is that the company would continue to employ a pilot that was not allowed to fly into the U.S.

Since we know that the union is not, ah, robust, then this guy must have some pretty good friends in high places. 

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I have no idea what accommodations WS would or wouldn't offer someone in that situation, but I can't imagine you are keeping your RAIC or Transportation Security Clearance with an unresolved US arrest warrant. Especially with the RCMP in the loop.

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The flight attendant involved has a very interesting twitter history - lots and lots of feminist, pay/gender equality and political rants. 

Just search "<her name> twitter"

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42 minutes ago, seeker said:

The flight attendant involved has a very interesting twitter history - lots and lots of feminist, pay/gender equality and political rants. 

Just search "<her name> twitter"

Which means what exactly? I hope you're not suggesting her political views (to which she is entitled to both have and voice) should bear effect on the merit of her claims against her former employer.

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1 hour ago, J.O. said:

Which means what exactly? I hope you're not suggesting her political views (to which she is entitled to both have and voice) should bear effect on the merit of her claims against her former employer.

Simply providing background information, nothing more.

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I think Dagger's first point is important to keep in mind as this thread progresses.  The only ones who know for sure were there.

Sadly, the complexion of this story is not strange or even new.  We've seen aspects of it played out in at least two, recent, high profile cases.

It is always a razor's edge between being accused of a witch trial and hanging the accused no matter what, vs being accused of foot-dragging and sweeping dirt under the rug.  I have seen events where both accusations were in play simultaneously.

My thoughts go to the victims on all sides, including loved ones.  No doubt a lot is going to get said, and a lot learned about individuals that can never be unsaid or unlearned.

Vs

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An updated News Report:

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WestJet being sued by a former flight attendant

 
‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎2, ‎2016, ‏‎5:59:03 PM | Kaitlin Lee

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) A civil lawsuit has been launched by a former WestJet flight attendant against the airline. She says she was sexually assaulted by a pilot and nothing was done about it. A notice of civil claim was filed at the BC Supreme Court in Vancouver yesterday.

The flight attendant, who we have chosen not to name, says the assault happened January 24, 2010. She says her crew was on a layover in Hawaii at the Makena Beach Resort. She says she and the rest of the crew socialized over drinks, as was encouraged by WestJet. She says the pilot invited everyone to his room to continue the party, but only she took him up on the offer. After more drinks, she claims the pilot made advances on her. She says she refused him and he then attempted to physically overtake her. She was able to fight him off.

She says she almost immediately told WestJet what had happened. She also reported the assault to Maui Police. The notice claims the flight attendant met with WestJet about three weeks later to discuss what happened. She says she was told she would no longer be working with this pilot and she was asked not to speak of the assault with anyone else in order to protect the pilot’s privacy. She says WestJet even asked her to sign an agreement to keep quiet about the assault for that same reason. She refused to sign.

The flight attendant claims she ended up being the one punished by the schedule change. She found she no longer received enough shifts to make up a full-time position. She says she felt demoralized and worried for the safety of other flight attendants working with this pilot. She believes the pilot was taken off the Hawaii route as a way to keep him from being interviewed or arrested by Maui Police.

It was April 2015 when this flight attendant met another employee at a training session who told her she had also been assaulted by this pilot. This assault is said to have happened two years prior to the events described by the complainant in this lawsuit. The notice of civil claim suggests WestJet was already well aware of the accused pilot’s behavior.

The flight attendant says she was so bothered by the knowledge that WestJet may have known about the pilot’s behavior that she was forced to go on stress leave. She was fired for insubordination in January 2016.

The flight attendant is asking for WestJet to investigate the allegations of assault from 2008 as well as her case. She’s asking for WestJet to declare it was negligent in the handling of her case. There’s also a request for general, punitive and specific damages.

WestJet has not filed a statement of defense. The airline offers this statement: “WestJet does not comment on ongoing legal proceedings but confirms it will file a statement of defense 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 allegations laid out in the notice of civil claim have been proven in court.

 

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8 hours ago, John S. said:

This was on the 6 o'clock news in YVR as well.

The reason for the 6 year delay is that (1) it appears to have been triggered by the F/A being fired and (2) the F/A was told by the company to keep it in-house. Apparently she did, until she was fired.

Malcolm, the one item I think is 'strange' is that the company would continue to employ a pilot that was not allowed to fly into the U.S.

Since we know that the union is not, ah, robust, then this guy must have some pretty good friends in high places. 

Strange indeed John but neither story says there was an actual warrant issued, just the one comment she made that he could not be arrested unless he returned to Hawaii. I would bet no warrant was ever issued or indeed charges laid but perhaps we will learn more as the story mushrooms.

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7 hours ago, John S. said:

Since we know that the union is not, ah, robust, then this guy must have some pretty good friends in high places. 

A 2010 Maui layover so possibly a more senior Captain with friends who perhaps heard only his side of the story? However, the good news is this former Westjet FA will now have her day in court and have her story heard too. 

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Why wouldn't company policy on sexual assault include strong encouragement for the alleged victim to contact police and file a charge ASAP? With that, potential bad press aside, you are supporting the alleged victim (good), upholding the law (good), building a case against a potential perpetrator who you may need to fire (good), and also somewhat forcing the issue in those cases where maybe sort of nothing happened other than hurt feelings; if the alleged victim doesn't proceed the company has still done their part. Obviously this drags the alleged perp in the mud- a potential innocent person- but is that preferable collateral damage than having been seen to attempt a coverup of a real incident? 

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14 minutes ago, J.O. said:

Oh please. It's a red herring, the same kind often used by defense lawyers to discredit the victim. 

Not at all.  I did a search on her name to see what other news reports were reporting this morning and spotted the twitter account.  If the pilot's name was published I'd have posted a link to his twitter account.  I've worked with enough low-lifes (of both genders) to know better than to choose sides or make assumptions.

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12 minutes ago, Zan Vetter said:

Why wouldn't company policy on sexual assault include strong encouragement for the alleged victim to contact police and file a charge ASAP? With that, potential bad press aside, you are supporting the alleged victim (good), upholding the law (good), building a case against a potential perpetrator who you may need to fire (good), and also somewhat forcing the issue in those cases where maybe sort of nothing happened other than hurt feelings; if the alleged victim doesn't proceed the company has still done their part. Obviously this drags the alleged perp in the mud- a potential innocent person- but is that preferable collateral damage than having been seen to attempt a coverup of a real incidents? 

In today's employment law, and considering the FA was not unionized in Canada Labour Code sense (which would be the case at AC, AT, etc.), there is nevertheless be an onus on an employer to 1. thoroughly investigate the incident, as impartially as possible,  and 2) provide professional assistance to the parties to deal with the impact of the action. A company today must have a robust policy of sexual and other harassment.

Actually, this is one rare occasion where WS would have been far better off it the flight attendants were unionized. I have a generally poor regard for CUPE but it would have conducted a vigorous review of her complaint before even filing a grievance with the company, and this would have been settled for better or worse in-house. In the absence of a union and proper grievance procedures, this has been allowed to fester, the company may have mishandled aspects of it, and the FA is well within her Code and employment law rights to sue. Whether she is a feminist or not, a pain in the ass or not, these issues have little relevance to the lawsuit. In fact, I'd say Pilot M is almost an afterthought in this case, based on what is out there in the public domain - in fact, he might be re-tired by now, or close enough to be packaged off, made to disappear so to speak. From here on in, it's the company and its handling of the case that are the central part of the story.

There are many questions that will have to be dealt with in this legal case:

1. Did the incident as described by plaintiff happen as described, or in some lesser or greater form that would constitute sexual assault?

2. Did she file her complaint (not the lawsuit, her internal complaint) in a timely manner?

3. How did the company handle the flight attendants' complaint? If it was anything less than fair and scrupulous to the flight attendant concerned, this will look bad on WestJet even if the actual complaint is exaggerated or groundless?

4. If it wasn't sexual assault, did the incident rise to the level of sexual harassment?

5. Did this pilot have a "prior" on his company record, i.e. was the first alleged assault known to the company?

6. If the pilot did behave improperly, on one or more than one occasions, what discipline or corrective action was undertaken by the company? 

7. Seeing it had a problem with one pilot, did the company take remedial action of any kind to help insure that there wouldn't be more such incidents, i.e. did it tighten its policy, assure staff of confidentiality to encourage them to come forward, etc.

8. Did the company protect the pilot more than the FA in pursuing its investigation? i.e. did he have friends in high places. The Old Boys network?

9. Was she fired with reasonable cause? 

I can think of many more questions, but don't want to bore you all. An incident like this, unless proven to be entirely an exaggeration - i.e. a gentleman who sought sex but when rebuffed, was entirely gentlemanly - is going to hurt WS more than a certain spying case against a rival airline many years ago. It will hurt in hiring staff, it will hurt in the marketplace, it will make relations between the two employee groups a little more intense - are there still these morale-building mixers on the road? It tars all WS pilots, which is unfair and unfortunate. Every employee group at every company has a couple of people who cannot control their impulses. What the company does when they fail to control their impulses now becomes the public's business.

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10 hours ago, Moon The Loon said:

Seen this scenario a hundred times. Where there's smoke, there's fire. Good luck to the FA(s) involved. I tend to believe their sides of the stories. There are many.

We are fortunate to live in a society where you are perfectly entitled to that belief.  And that that belief would exempt you from jury duty. 

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2 hours ago, seeker said:

Not at all.  I did a search on her name to see what other news reports were reporting this morning and spotted the twitter account.  If the pilot's name was published I'd have posted a link to his twitter account.  I've worked with enough low-lifes (of both genders) to know better than to choose sides or make assumptions.

Actually, her blog is even more interesting...

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2 hours ago, seeker said:

Not at all.  I did a search on her name to see what other news reports were reporting this morning and spotted the twitter account.  If the pilot's name was published I'd have posted a link to his twitter account.  I've worked with enough low-lifes (of both genders) to know better than to choose sides or make assumptions.

If you were trying to be balanced and fair, you'd have posted both of their histories, and if both weren't available, neither.  

I looked at her online postings.  She calls herself a "raging adorable feminist".  So what?  She's also an atheist, and in favour of legalizing marijuana.  Does that also effect her credibility, or just the feminism?  If the second victim is also a feminist, do they cancel each other out?

It would be interesting to know if she became a raging feminist before or after her company told her to be quiet about a sexual assault to protect the privacy of her perpetrator.

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53 minutes ago, cp fa said:

If you were trying to be balanced and fair, you'd have posted both of their histories, and if both weren't available, neither.  

I looked at her online postings.  She calls herself a "raging adorable feminist".  So what?  She's also an atheist, and in favour of legalizing marijuana.  Does that also effect her credibility, or just the feminism?  If the second victim is also a feminist, do they cancel each other out?

It would be interesting to know if she became a raging feminist before or after her company told her to be quiet about a sexual assault to protect the privacy of her perpetrator.

Earlier I said that I've seen enough low-life behavior from both genders to know that it's foolish to pick sides the day after the story becomes public, especially based solely on the information presented to us by the media. I don't have any basis for deciding what really happened.  As I said, I found her twitter account and mentioned that it was interesting.  I don't know if it makes her more believable or less believable.  You obviously read through it - did you find it interesting?  If not, why did you read it?

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3 hours ago, dagger said:

I have a generally poor regard for CUPE but it would have conducted a vigorous review of her complaint before even filing a grievance with the company, and this would have been settled for better or worse in-house

But if there actually was a 'crime' committed, wouldn't any attempt to settle the matter in house, which is exactly what they did at the time, be construed later as an attempt to obstruct justice regardless of Union involvement?

There’s a story here, but nothing at all has been proven yet. I stand to be corrected, but I think Seeker and others are taking the side of balance rather than jumping to conclusions that may not be sustained in a Court of competent jurisdiction?
 
Truthful, or not, the plaintiff will likely face quite an uphill battle trying to prove her case all these years after the fact.
 

 

 

Edited by DEFCON
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