The Supreme Court of Canada has denied WestJet Airlines Ltd leave to appeal a February ruling by the BC Court of Appeal that denied WestJet’s application to dismiss a proposed class action against it for breach of contract. The Plaintiff, Mandelena Lewis, alleges that she was subject to sexual harassment as a WestJet flight attendant and that WestJet’s response failed to uphold its contractual promises to protect against harassment.
WestJet brought an application to dismiss the action on the basis that the courts lacked jurisdiction to hear the dispute because the essential character of the claim engages statutory rights created by the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canada Labour Code and enforced by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Ms. Lewis responded that her employment contract is an independent source of rights, and nothing in the legislation eliminates the court’s jurisdiction to determine whether those rights have been breached. The BC Court of Appeal agreed with Ms. Lewis in February of this year, and on July 18, 2019 the Supreme Court of Canada refused to disturb that finding.
With the Supreme Court of Canada’s refusal to hear WestJet’s appeal, the case can now move on to hearings on whether it will be certified as a class action on behalf of WestJet flight attendants.