WestJet sexual assault allegations addressed by CEO
Company to file statement of defence in lawsuit alleging WestJet's investigation was inadequate
WestJet CEO Gregg Saretsky says the company will be filing a statement of defence in a lawsuit that alleges the company failed to respond properly to an allegation that a pilot sexually assaulted a flight attendant.
Writing on the WestJet blog Friday, Saretsky says that the company followed its code of conduct and ethics.
"Investigations did take place on these matters and they were subsequently closed," he writes.
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"We are reviewing the investigations to ensure they were diligently carried out, and no new information has come to light since the investigations were undertaken six years ago."
Removed from active flying duty
A spokesperson from the company told CBC News Friday that both the pilot and another flight attendant named in the lawsuit are currently not on active flying duty.
WestJet declined to say when the decision to ground the two staff members had taken place.
In his blog post, Saretsky writes that the decision was made "out of concern for their well-being and the continued safe operation of the airline."
A petition calling for Saretsky's resignation was launched after news of the lawsuit filed by the former WestJet flight attendant emerged on Wednesday.
Mandalena (Mandy) Lewis is suing the Calgary-based airline, claiming she was sexually assaulted by a pilot in 2010 during a layover in Hawaii. She alleges the company protected the pilot and fired her instead.
Saretsky writes in his blog post that WestJet has a strong reporting culture.
"Regardless of its nature, each complaint made through our whistleblower hotline, including the outcomes of the investigations, is reported to the safety, health and environment committee of our board of directors," he says.
"We have always treated any complaint with the seriousness it deserves and will continue to do so."
Employees encouraged to come forward
Saretsky says the reports that further complainants have come forward is not true, and the company has received no more information on the matter.
"We encourage our employees to report any concern that goes against our code of conduct or where they feel safety is at risk, and we urge them to bring any new information to our attention," he says.
Saretsky also writes that accusations that WestJet have fired employees for attempting to organize a union are "patently false," and that a response to such a claim with the Canada Industrial Relations Board has been filed.
Saretsky says he is confident WestJet's staff will continue to provide their "brand of friendly, caring service" as the company works though these "as yet unfounded" allegations.
WestJet told CBC News the statement of defence will be filed on March 23.
With files from Julianne Hazelwood