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WestJet takes two employees out of flying duty in wake of sexual-assault allegation

Former WestJet employee Mandalena Lewis stands in her loft March 2, 2016 in Vancouver, BC. Lewis alleges that the Calgary-based airline WestJet failed to protect her from being sexually assaulted by a pilot who was known to have previously assaulted another woman.

Jeff Vinnick/The Globe and Mail

WestJet has grounded two employees named in a lawsuit filed by a former flight attendant that contends the company failed to take proper action after she alleged she was sexually assaulted on the job.

Airline spokeswoman Lauren Stewart says in an e-mail that two employees mentioned in the court filings have been taken out of active flying duty while the company reviews investigations it conducted into historic allegations of sexual assault.

CEO Gregg Saretsky says in a statement posted online today that the employees were taken out of service because of concern about their well-being and the safe operation of the airline.

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Former flight attendant Mandalena Lewis launched a lawsuit against the Calgary-based airline alleging the company failed to respond adequately after she reported an alleged sexually assaulted by a pilot during a stopover six years ago in Hawaii.

Lewis says in a statement of claim filed with the B.C. Supreme Court that she met another flight attendant last year who reported being sexually assaulted by the same pilot and was allegedly told by WestJet to keep quiet.

The company has not filed a statement of defence and none of the allegations have been proven in court.

Saretsky says WestJet has a whistleblower hotline and always treats complaints seriously.

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