Esquimalt’s Madalena Lewis, a former WestJet flight attendant, refuses to be silenced.
“I was sexually assaulted in 2010 it was in Maui it was on a layover it was by a captain,” said Lewis.
Before that trip Lewis, who worked for WestJet for 8 years, says she loved her job and believed in the company.
“I thought they are going to do the right thing here if he gets fired then that is what needs to happen I totally believed that,” said Lewis.
But Lewis claims that instead of firing or disciplining the pilot, they told her to stay quiet.
“They said because he hasn’t been charged you can’t go around and use his name or say that anything happened because then you will be subject to discipline and they said if you sign this NDA [non-disclosure agreement] it is for your own good and I said absolutely not,” said Lewis.
WestJet denies the allegation that it failed to take appropriate action.
Lewis was fired while on stress leave but says while she still worked for WestJet other women have approached her about the same pilot and that’s when she says she decided to do something.
She filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against WestJet, to expose what she claims is a toxic environment of sexual harassment, prolific in the aviation industry.
“It’s not just about this one pilot who has abused me and many other women, it’s about many pilots that are being protected by airlines that are being protected by unions,” said Lewis.
The lawsuit, which proposes to represent all current and former female WestJet flight attendants, alleges the airline breached its anti-harassment promise.
“We are going after a breach in contract from them failing woman’s safety,” said Lewis.
In 2017 a British Columbia Supreme Court judge dismissed WestJet’s application to strike the legal action, rejecting the company’s argument that the dispute belongs before a human rights tribunal and workers’ compensation board.
The airline took its argument to the B.C. Court of Appeal and a three-judge panel ruled against it.
Now, Lewis is one step closer to having her lawsuit against the airline heard.
Earlier this week Canada’s highest court refused to even hear Westjet’s arguments to get the lawsuit dropped.
“It feels really good knowing that this is not all for nothing,” said Lewis.
In an emailed statement to CHEK News WestJet wrote “WestJet respects the decision of the court and as this matter remains before the courts, we are unable to provide additional comment at this time,” the statement reads.
“I expect them to fight until the last minute ”
None of the allegations have been proven in court.