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British Columbia High Court certifies former flight attendant’s class action lawsuit against WestJet

VANCOUVER — The British Columbia Court of Appeal has ruled that a former flight attendant’s class action lawsuit alleging breach of contract against WestJet can proceed.

The decision by a three-member panel released on Tuesday overturns a lower court ruling that dismissed the 2016 claim by former WestJet employee Mandalena Lewis.

In written reasons, Judge Peter Voith says the lower court erred in concluding the case related to workplace discrimination and “general systemic harassment” and that he should be heard by the Human Rights Tribunal. nobody.

Instead, the ruling says the case centers on the allegation that WestJet breached a specific contract with its flight attendants by failing to uphold the company’s anti-harassment promise.

The unanimous three-judge ruling says the court cannot consider contractual issues and that treating the case as a class action would provide an ‘access to justice advantage’ over a hearing under the Act on human rights.

Although none of Lewis’ claims have been proven in court, Voith says he accepts that if the claims are upheld, WestJet flight attendants could be compensated from the money the company would have saved. breaching his contract.

The panel declined to certify the part of the class action lawsuit that would set the amount of compensation, saying the matter should be decided later.

“(It) remains open to the trial judge, at the conclusion of the trial on the common issues, to find that the statutory conditions for a global indemnity have been met and to award such indemnity.”

When asked to comment, WestJet said in a statement that it is committed to maintaining a safe and harassment-free environment. He said the company does not comment on court cases.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 20, 2022.

The Canadian Press