The disputing the substance of the allegations but

article with the heading “WestJet wants B.C. court to toss proposed class
action that alleges harassment in Global news”, speaks about the case of Former flight attendant Mandalena Lewis of WestJet, the Calgary-based airline, who sued the
airline for gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment, accusing them of
fostering a corporate culture that tolerates harassment against its female
employees. None of the allegations have been proven in court; Mandelena Lewis
filed a lawsuit claiming the airline broke a contractual “promise” to prevent
its employees from experiencing harassment in the workplace.

Company’s Lawyer, Don Dear, said “WestJet is not disputing the substance of the
allegations but believes the arguments are being heard in an improper venue but
that it would be better dealt with through a human rights tribunal or worker’s
compensation board rather than the British Columbia Supreme Court”. Opposing
his argument, Karey Brooks, co-counsel for Lewis, disagreed with WestJet’s
assertion that the courts were an inappropriate venue to hear the case.

Lewis filed an earlier lawsuit against the airline claiming WestJet violated
its anti-harassment policy in its response to her complaint of being
sexually assaulted by its pilot at a stopover in Hawaii. Mandelena Lewis said
the airline asked her not to talk about the incident. The pilot was barred from
flying to Hawaii, in effect protecting him from being arrested by Maui police,
who had opened an investigation into the case. WestJet rejected the allegations
of failing to take appropriate action after she reported the incident. In its
statement of defense, WestJet claimed that an internal investigation was
launched immediately the Lewis complaint was filed but the company was
ultimately unable to conclude the pilot committed an assault.


This article has shown
that WestJet HR practice has not been efficient in its establishment and
execution of its HR policy on gender-based discrimination which resulted to the
harassment of its former employee who has sued the company for fostering a
corporate culture that tolerates harassment against its female employees which
can lead to the brand of the company being misrepresented. If the previous case
filed by Lewis was handled efficiently, I believe a case like this will not
repeat itself, especially not to the same employee.

 The brand of a business describes how it will
be perceived and what will be said of it. “According to Soko in his paper he concluded
that Employees today are choosing to work for reputable organizations, they
consider employers who value their employees and treat them fairly; he also
stated that Organizations must aim to be employers where potential employees
are attracted to work and existing staff remain loyal and perform for the good
of the whole business. Further stating that there is the need for employers to
measure, analyze and position their brand to the job market where they will
attract the right people with the right skills in the shortest period”. (Soko)

As a result of this
event, the Company may be perceived to be slack on its HR policies which can
make it unattractive to exceptional and potential employees, plus loss of loyal
and committed employees within the organization. This can also lead to loss of
business opportunity to their existing and potential competitors.


An organization where there is no law or policy, there will
be no offences therefore conflict and issues are inevitable.

The issues faced in the article explained above are
gender based discrimination and sexual harassment.

Gender based discrimination means being biases based on
gender. In some part of the world the feminine gender does not have the same
opportunities as the masculine in areas such as education, meaningful careers,
political influence and economic advancement and so on.

Sexual Harassment
– are unwanted sexual

“According to Renckly the keystone of every company’s defense
in protecting itself against any type of employee relations lawsuits, is a
clear written company policy signed by the president of the company and stating
the support of and intention to strictly adhere to the provision of the
particular law in question”. Every employee should each have a copy of this
policy. (Renckly)

No organization should
tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment of any kind to or from any
employee, they are expected to create a good working environment for their
staff, free from any form of harassment, discrimination, bullying and inappropriate
behavior. All employees are to be treated with respect, dignity and courtesy. The human resource department is
responsible for defending the employees against discrimination and harassment;
therefore, a policy that speaks to all employee about discrimination and
harassment should be enacted, a process of reporting in case of violation and
an appropriate sanction for the culprit should be put in place and adhered to
strictly. Employees who violate this policy should be sanctioned. If found
guilty of violating the policy; persons who violate the policy should be
subject to termination of employment, civil damages or criminal penalties.

The human resource
department of WestJet airline should have set up a committee to handle the case
and ensure that necessary steps and compensation is taken and made to prevent
the company from facing court trials that will lead to financial loss.

If the policy was implemented and executed effectively, the
Lewis case would have been investigated properly and WestJet pilot would have
been dealt with accordingly if found guilty of sexual harassment and this would
in turn save the company the risk of being labeled a gender based
discrimination airline that encourages sexual harassment. If the human
resources department had been more effective and efficient in resolving the
issue it might not have escalated to a lawsuit.

Sexual harassment is a cruel form of discriminations and
human resources professional should ensure that the law that prohibits sexual
harassment in workplace is effectively implemented and executed in every
organization. WestJet telling Mandelena Lewis to remain quiet about the
incident shouldn’t be the response, when the policy clearly states that when
harassed, a report should be made to the appropriate authority. The human
resource should have prevented the company from portraying itself to be
favoring the pilot, a detailed investigation should have been carried out. WestJet barred the
pilot from flying to Hawaii there by protected him from arrest by Maui police,
who had opened an investigation into the case even after sexually assaulting
Mandelena Lewis, these shows lack of respect and gender discrimination. WestJet
could have prevented the whole issue if they had a proactive human resources
department. The human resources department should have handled the case well
which will make it clear to all employee that all forms of harassment and
discriminations are not acceptable. The case could have been settled without
going to court if the appropriate measures were put in place.

WestJet HR directors
should have ensured that after Mandelena Lewis reported the case they arranged
an investigation meeting of the allege harassment, inviting both the complainer
and the accused to the meeting, ensuring they are both aware of the seriousness
of sexual harassment, explain the company’s policy and to prepare a written
report. Once this is done they should ensure that they submit a summarized copy
of the report with recommendations to the company officials, ensuring that the pilot
is sanctioned accordingly and notifying the complainer and accused of the
actions taken.  

If WestJet HR directors
has done this it would have made a difference.