Sexual harassment complaints soaring amid frat boy culture in airline industry

Mandalena Lewis was enjoying a layover in Hawaii with her WestJet co-workers the night she says a pilot pinned her down and tried to force her to have sex.“I escaped being raped, but I was sexually assaulted,” the former flight attendant said.A warm Sunday evening on the sands of Maui’s Makena Beach Resort in January 2010 had led to a group dinner and then an invitation from the pilot to have drinks on his balcony, which she accepted. Once in the room, he “dragged her onto the bed, kissing her and groping her” as she “physically resisted the assault and yelled for him to stop,” according to Lewis’s 2016 lawsuit against WestJet, filed in B.C. Supreme Court.“It was a terrible situation. It was traumatizing,” Lewis, 33, told The Canadian Press.Lewis later learned that WestJet had investigated a complaint from a flight attendant two years earlier alleging the same pilot had sexually assaulted her during a layover in Alberta, according to the lawsuit. It states the company did not discipline or fire him, nor take steps to warn or protect women scheduled to work with him.WestJet has denied the allegations, which have not been proven in court.Fired in 2016 after eight years with WestJet, Lewis has spoken out publicly about the “toxic” relations and “cowboy culture” at airlines and launched a proposed class action lawsuit against her former employer.On Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear WestJet’s arguments to quash the lawsuit, which accuses the airline of failing to provide a harassment-free workplace for women. WestJet previously failed to scuttle the action in the B.C. courts after arguing that the dispute belongs in the quasi-judicial realm.Airline insiders say the alleged incident speaks to an industry plagued by sexual harassment and gender discrimination as it struggles to shed a “frat boy culture” among pilots that plays out in everything from lewd jokes in the cockpit to “midnight knockers” at the hotel door.The Canadian Press spoke with seven current and former flight attendants and multiple experts who say aviation is struggling to rise above 20th-century attitudes and adapt to the #MeToo era.Complaints citing sex in the flight industry have more than doubled over the past decade or so, totalling 118 in the period between 2014 and 2018, according to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Harassment-specific complaints that cite sex rose 58 per cent between 2004 and 2018.By comparison, other federally regulated industries such as banking, broadcasting and telecommunications saw fewer than 10 complaints collectively over the past 15 years, according to the commission, despite having much bigger workforces.Airline employees highlighted a lopsided dynamic in which men occupy the vast majority of pilot jobs — 93 per cent at Air Canada and WestJet, slightly more balanced than the industry average of 95 per cent — and women comprise between 70 and 80 per cent of the country’s 15,000 flight attendants, according to the Canadian Union of Public Employees.“When there’s a hierarchy like that, it creates a power dynamic, and some people will take advantage of it,” said flight attendant Florence LePage, citing sexist humour as one of the softer manifestations.On a flight between Yellowknife and Whitehorse this year, a pilot phoned her from the cockpit to ask, “‘What is the difference between a chickpea and a lentil?’ Then he said, ‘The difference is that I would not pay to have a lentil pee on my face,’” recalled LePage, who is in her 20s and works at a major Canadian airline.Other flight attendants pointed to incidents of pornography on the flight deck and unwanted advances after touchdown.“I was warned constantly about midnight knockers,” said one flight attendant who has worked at WestJet for more than 15 years and wished to remain anonymous for fears about job security.She alleges she was at a bar on a layover in Moncton soon after joining the company and the pilot, who had consumed several margaritas, started to stroke her.“I just remember the feeling of the back of his hand on my upper arm…and of course it was unwelcome. So I said, ‘OK, I’ve got to go.’ And as I’m on my way out, the first officer does the same dang thing.”The pilot insisted on walking her back to the hotel, which was across the street. In the elevator, she said he snapped the room key from her hand. She said she managed to retrieve it and waited for him to pass by before stepping into her room, which was adjacent to his. “I dead-bolted my door and I thought, ‘Thank God that’s over.’”Then the phone rang. “He said, ‘Hi, it’s me.’ And I said, ‘What do you want?’ And he said, ‘I just wanted to make sure you made it to your room okay.’” She hung up.“I was absolutely terrified.”An undercurrent of in-flight flirtation can blend easily into romantic encounters during trips of up to four days spent with the same colleagues in far-flung climes. But the dynamic can also spill over into unsolicited, sexually aggressive behaviour from male colleagues and passengers, said Jocelyn Frye, a senior fellow at the Centre for American Progress who focuses on women’s rights and economic security.“They’re away from family, they don’t have those constraints, nobody’s around…they can do sort of crazy things and they think there’s no consequence,” Frye said.“That can create more vulnerability and more potential for harm for people on the receiving end of those comments or that conduct.”Expectations can also become internalized, with employees labelling less party-inclined colleagues as “slam-clickers.”“It means that if you go to your hotel room and you slam your door and you click it locked, you don’t hang out and you’re antisocial,” said Mandalena Lewis. “I’ve been called a slam-clicker.”WestJet said in an email it treats harassment seriously and is “committed to providing and ensuring a safe and harassment-free environment for WestJetters and guests.”The company highlighted an anonymous whistleblower hotline and safety reporting system, and said its “respect-in-the-workplace policies” are clearly outlined, in addition to mandatory annual training.Air Canada, meanwhile, said it has “zero tolerance for harassment, discrimination or violence in the workplace.”“Employee safety and well-being is one of our cornerstone values which we will not compromise,” the company said in an email.The stalwart statements come as cold comfort to Lewis.“‘Be a dutiful daughter. Don’t be a problem employee,’” she said, mimicking their stance.“It’s a #MeToo dumpster fire…and it’s exhausting for survivors.”Companies in this story: (TSX:WJA, TSX:AC)Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press read more

Telus says its not breaking foreign ownership limit of 333 for telecom

Telus says it’s not breaking foreign ownership limit of 33.3% for telecom firms by News Staff Posted Jul 23, 2012 7:30 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Telus (TSX:T) said Monday that it is under the federal foreign ownership limit of 33.3 per cent for telecom companies, responding to accusations that it was breaking the restriction.The Vancouver company said it’s 32.59 per cent foreign-owned, as of June 29, and wants the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to dismiss a complaint filed by smaller competitor Globalive.The release of its foreign ownership level should also satisfy hedge fund investor Mason Capital Management, which had questioned Telus’ foreign ownership level, said Ted Woodhead, vice-president of telecom and regulatory affairs.“Our system controls where we sit in terms of non-Canadian ownership and it’s definitive,” Woodhead said from Vancouver.Woodhead said Telus’ foreign ownership levels are measured daily.“It’s a manual count of all shareholders.”Both Toronto-based Globalive and New York’s Mason Capital used reports from Broadridge Financial Solutions, which use postal or zip codes from where account statements are mailed, rather than the actual citizenship of the owner, he said.“To the extent that they both use the same argument, this answer puts to rest any allegations or claims that they have,” Woodhead said of both of the claims.But Globalive CEO Tony Lacavera said late Monday the company stands by its application to the CRTC.Globalive, backed by Amsterdam-headquartered VimpelCom, has also faced questions in the past about its level of foreign ownership with the CRTC before it launched as a new wireless provider to cellphone customers.Globalive fought a two-year legal battle, which started in 2009, and focused on whether its Wind Mobile met the test for Canadian ownership and control when it entered the market.Woodhead also says Telus is still committed to a single class of common shares, a move that was scuttled in May by the hedge fund, but was mum on the timing.Telus is also fighting an attempt by Mason Capital Management to get copies of proxy votes that the telecom company received ahead of the cancelled shareholder vote on a single class of shares.“There was never a vote and the proposal was withdrawn. So we view their application as without merit as well,” Woodhead said of Mason’s request to the British Columbia Supreme Court.Mason asked the B.C. high court to order Telus to provide unredacted copies of the proxies submitted ahead of a vote on whether to eliminate the company’s dual-class share structure, a move Mason vehemently opposed.The hedge fund, which owns almost 20 per cent of Telus, has said in its petition that knowing the level of support for the proposal could affect Mason’s decision about whether it should increase or decrease its stake in the telecom company.Mason’s petition says, among other things, that it has the right to inspect Telus’ ballots and proxies. read more

Orange Bowl gets an AlabamaOklahoma CFP matchup

MIAMI — Alabama was the easy pick. Oklahoma was the difficult choice.They’re on equal footing now.Top-seeded Alabama (13-0) will continue its quest for a second consecutive national championship in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 29, when the Crimson Tide will take on the fourth-seeded Sooners (12-1) — who got to the College Football Playoff semifinals on the strength of their Big 12 championship win over Texas.Ohio State, Georgia and even UCF all felt like they deserved a spot, but the selection committee felt Oklahoma’s resume was the best off that long list of contenders for the fourth and final entry into the playoff.“The one-loss conference champion carried the day,” CFP selection chairman Rob Mullens said on the televised announcement of the pairings.Alabama has won 15 consecutive games, starting with its two wins in last season’s playoff and most recently a rally past Georgia for the Southeastern Conference title on Saturday. Oklahoma’s only defeat this season was to Texas, a 48-45 game on a neutral field in Dallas on Oct. 6 — and the Sooners won the rematch in Saturday’s Big 12 title game, 39-27.The Tide knew they were going to the playoffs.The Sooners had to wait and sweat out the official word.“Sooner Nation, we just got some great news,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said in a video posted to Twitter shortly after the announcement was made.It’s a matchup of the two highest-scoring teams in the nation this season. Oklahoma, led by Heisman Trophy hopeful quarterback Kyler Murray, averages 49.5 points per game. Alabama averages 47.9 points per game.And while the Sooners know who their quarterback is, the Crimson Tide have some questions at that position.Jalen Hurts led Alabama’s rally over Georgia on Saturday, taking over when Crimson Tide starter Tua Tagovailoa left with what appeared to be a right ankle injury. Hurts threw for a touchdown and ran in for the winning TD with about a minute left, as Alabama knocked off Georgia 35-28 — a win that probably knocked the Bulldogs out of the playoff.Alabama-Oklahoma got slotted for the Orange Bowl instead of the Cotton Bowl in large part because of how close the Sooners’ home is to Dallas. It would have largely been a home game for Oklahoma had this matchup been in the Cotton Bowl.Alabama is going to the Orange Bowl for the ninth time. This will be Oklahoma’s 20th trip to the Orange Bowl, extending the Sooners’ record for most appearances in the game.___More AP college football: and Reynolds, The Associated Press read more

Sitdown Sunday 7 deadly reads

first_imgIT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair. We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.1. Mean girls?John Tierney asks: How aggressive is the human female? He looks at new research which examines what provokes the ‘mean girl’ effect from women towards other women – and the results may be dispiriting.(New York Times – approx 5 minutes reading time, 1191 words)Now that researchers have been looking more closely, they say that this “intrasexual competition” is the most important factor explaining the pressures that young women feel to meet standards of sexual conduct and physical appearance2. Roller Derby queensB David Zarley meets the Roller Derby queens the Gotham Girls, the world’s number one team who consistently slam their opponents. Not sure what Roller Derby is? Prepare to get informed.(Sports on Earth – approx 16 minutes reading time, 3320 words)People of every size, shape and color wandered about the arena, some shattering the conventional notions of derby girls, some personifying it. Really, the one overarching theme that bound them all together was friendly, affable confidence. Roller derby is wonderfully inclusive, accepting skaters of nearly every body and personality type, something which extends to the fan base as well. The Cerro Rico in Bolivia. Pic: Adam Jones/Flickr/Creative Commons 3. Children in the minesWes Enzinna journeys down to the mines where Bolivia’s child labourers – yes, children – work in unimaginable conditions in Cerro Rico. Their tiny bodies fit into the three-foot high tunnels, and outside their workplaces are signs of sacrifice.(Vice – approx 17 minutes reading time, 3592 words)Jackson and I were on a mission to find child miners, 3,000 of whom are rumored to work in the Cerro Rico illegally. Their work is officially forbidden by the Bolivian government, so they tend to stay out of sight when foreigners come around… according to the most recent available statistics, 60 children died from cave-ins and other accidents in the Cerro Rico in 2008 alone.4. Failing hardDavid Raether once was a comedy writer for the sitcom Roseanne, but within years found himself homeless. In an excerpt from his book, he writes about what the experience taught him.(Priceonomics – approx 26 minutes reading time, 5215  words)Our family faced the same economic forces that hurt many families, but I don’t blame the banks or politicians or anyone else for what happened to us. I made a thousand decisions, large and small, that seemed reasonable at the time but cumulatively led to our situation. It is tempting to blame external forces for the disasters that befall us, but as Shakespeare wrote in “Julius Ceasar,” the fault for what happens to us “is not in our stars but in ourselves.” Pic: Shutterstock5. Freezing to deathPeter Stark (aptly named, given his article’s subject) examines what happens when you contract hypothermia, the terrifying experience of being overtaken by the cold.(Outside– approx 20 minutes reading time, 4008 words)But for all scientists and statisticians now know of freezing and its physiology, no one can yet predict exactly how quickly and in whom hypothermia will strike–and whether it will kill when it does. The cold remains a mystery, more prone to fell men than women, more lethal to the thin and well muscled than to those with avoirdupois, and least forgiving to the arrogant and the unaware.6. How the Beatles succeeded Andrew Romano argues that, contrary to what experts like Malcolm Gladwell have said, the Beatles didn’t succeed because of putting in 10k hours of work. He says their stratospheric success came through talent, ambition… and “a lot of arrogance”.(Daily Beast – approx minutes reading time, words)But this isn’t even the real problem with Gladwell’s theory. The real problem is that while the Beatles’ marathon stints in Hamburg did transform them as a band—they were so vibrant, so tight, and so unrecognizable when they returned from their first campaign that the crowds in Liverpool mistook them for a blistering new German combo—the “complex task” they had now “mastered” was not the same task that would eventually earn them world domination.…AND ONE FROM THE ARCHIVES…Pic: AP/Press Association ImagesIn 2005, Uncut magazine looked at the inside story of Bob Dylan’s classic album Blood on the Tracks. From the singer’s infidelity to his artistic rebirth, this story is as juicy as they come.(Uncut – approx minutes reading time, words)February 13, 1977. Bob and Sara Dylan are screaming themselves hoarse. Sara has just walked down to breakfast in their Malibu mansion to find Bob and their children sat down to eat – with another woman. She’s one of countless girlfriends Bob has been seeing over the previous year. This one has even moved into a house on their estate. But seeing her sitting with their children makes something in Dylan’s wife finally snap.Interested in longreads during the week? Look out for Catch-Up Wednesday every Wednesday evening.More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >The Sports Pages – the best sports writing collected every week by >last_img read more