Home Featured WestJet ordered to hand over documents related to its anti-harassment program as part of class-action lawsuit from flight attendants

WestJet ordered to hand over documents related to its anti-harassment program as part of class-action lawsuit from flight attendants

by HR Law Canada

WestJet has been ordered to provide a range of documents relating to its anti-harassment program — including training and exit interview material — by the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

This ruling comes as part of a class action lawsuit led by the representative plaintiff, ML, alleging that WestJet failed to implement and enforce an anti-harassment policy, breaching employment contracts with its flight attendants.

The lawsuit, certified as a class proceeding in April 2022, focuses on whether WestJet had an anti-harassment promise as part of its employment contracts and if the company saved costs by not fulfilling this promise. The period under scrutiny runs from April 4, 2014, to February 28, 2021.

At the heart of the case lies the methodology developed in the Turnpenney report, which identifies various elements crucial for assessing WestJet’s compliance with its anti-harassment program. These include investigation processes, information dissemination, operational capacity, and data monitoring related to the program.

Despite ongoing discussions and document requests between the parties since September 2022, the plaintiff has pursued a court order for additional document production, arguing that many requested documents were not provided by WestJet.

The court has ordered WestJet to produce documents across several categories, including policy acknowledgments, training documents of trainers, exit interview records, and investigation documents related to harassment or sexual harassment complaints.

However, the court declined the plaintiff’s request for settlement documents, citing the application of settlement privilege.

The court emphasized the relevance of these documents to the certified common issues, particularly in relation to WestJet’s adherence to its anti-harassment policies. The court balanced the need for these documents against the principles of proportionality, deciding that their production would significantly contribute to the resolution of the case.

However, the court dismissed the production of settlement documents, underscoring the importance of settlement privilege. The judge ruled that the public interest in promoting settlement outweighed the plaintiff’s request for these documents, even considering the public concern over workplace harassment.

For more information, see Lewis v WestJet Airlines Ltd., 2024 BCSC 111 (CanLII).

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