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Canada’s highest court won’t hear WestJet appeal in sexual harassment case

British Columbia

The Supreme Court of Canada refused Thursday to hear WestJet's arguments to quash a proposed class-action harassment lawsuit launched by a former flight attendant.

Former WestJet flight attendant Mandalena Lewis sued WestJet over alleged gender-based discrimination. The airline went to the Supreme Court of Canada in an attempt to have it throw out of court, but lost its legal bid on Thursday.(Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

WestJet has lost a legal bid to put an end to a proposed class-action harassment lawsuit.

The Supreme Court of Canada refused Thursday to hear WestJet's arguments to quash the suit launched by a former flight attendant.

Mandalena Lewis alleges she was sexually assaulted by a pilot while on a stopover in Hawaii in 2010 and that the airline breached its anti-harassment promise in her contract.

Her lawsuit proposes to represent all current and former female WestJet flight attendants whose employment contracts included the airline's pledge.

Former WestJet flight attendant Mandalena Lewis sits for a photograph in Vancouver on March 8, 2016. Lewis said she was fired after reporting an alleged sexual assault by one of the airline's pilots, alleged to have happened during a stopover in 2010.(Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Lewis worked for WestJet for eight years.

"They've just delayed and denied so vigorously. I would say it's been embarrassing on their part," Lewis said of WestJet's legal fight in a phone interview after the court's ruling.

The airline failed to scuttle the action in the B.C. courts, prompting it to argue that the Supreme Court could provide clarity on whether a court or the Canadian Human Rights Commission is the proper forum for systemic sexual harassment allegations.

Following its usual practice, the high court gave no reasons for refusing to hear the case.

WestJet has denied allegations that it failed to take appropriate action after Lewis reported what happened.

A statement of defence from the Calgary-based airline 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.

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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