In British Columbia, Canada, a sexual assault lawsuit against WestJet filed by a former flight attendant for the airline has recently gained momentum. Mandalena Lewis reported a sexual assault to her employer, stating a pilot sexually abused her during a layover in 2010. The lawsuit began after WestJet allegedly did virtually nothing to follow through and ensure the protection of its flight attendants.
The class action, which appears to include an entirely female plaintiff class, seeks damages for the harm suffered by the women, including economic and non-economic damages. However, the case is catching the most attention because the claimants are not suing for specific instances of sexual assault and harassment. Instead, the class argues that WestJet and potentially other airlines have not created reliable protocols to prevent such instances from happening in the first place.
(You can learn about the ongoing WestJet flight attendant sexual assault class action by clicking here and viewing a full article from CityNews Everywhere.)
Flight Attendants Around the Globe Speak Up
The pending WestJet class action in Canada is in no way fully unique to that country. Flight attendants around the globe are speaking up and taking legal action in growing numbers after being sexually assaulted while on the job. Right here in the United States, our attorneys from The Shellist Law Firm, PLLC in Houston, Texas, are currently working on a similar case for a client who says she was sexually assaulted while working as a flight attendant on a trip to Mexico and her employer bears a large part of the responsibility.
When considering the state of the airline industry, it is easy to see how sexual harassment, assault and abuse could become so rampant, especially when airline companies are not doing enough to stem it. Pilots are essentially considered “officers-in-command” on flights with seniority and authority over flight attendants, so it can be intimidating for a flight attendant to refuse a pilot for anything. Statistically, the majority of workplace sexual assaults are conducted by males against females; 93% of all pilots in the U.S. are male, and 84% of flight attendants are female. Also, many flight crews are encouraged to drink together at hotels and bars during long layovers, and some people try to commit sex crimes while intoxicated in hopes that the alcohol can be used as an excuse if they get caught.
With all of these warning signs and red flags, it really is inexcusable for the airline industry to take such a nonchalant approach to sexual harassment and assault prevention. Through the efforts of lawsuits like those handled by The Shellist Law Firm and brought forth by the Canadian flight attendants, airlines might be pressured to improve their policies and better protect their employees from sexual abuse.
Want to know more about the legal services of The Shellist Law Firm, PLLC in Houston? You can contact us online at any time to request a consultation with our firm.