WestJet Employees File Lawsuit Against Employer and Ottawa Over Vaccine Mandate

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A group of 176 current and former employees of air carrier WestJet filed a lawsuit on Oct. 5  against their employer and the federal government over the imposition of the vaccine mandate.

“Collaborating with airlines and corporate stakeholders, the Canadian Government implemented punitive and divisive Covid-19 vaccination mandates, creating a two-tier society stoked only by fear,” the group of plaintiffs calling themselves Cause For Action wrote in a statement.

The group says it has no issue with people choosing to get vaccinated, only with the coercive nature of the mandate.

“Our objection lies with the coercion, discipline, and denial of informed consent used to achieve mass vaccination. Forcing consent under duress is unethical, unconstitutional, illegal and by no means Canadian,” it says.

Cause For Action says it represents a variety of employees: active, on leave, terminated, forced into early retirement, and suffering from vaccine injury. The professions are also diverse, including pilots, flight attendants, and contact centre agents.

Even though the mandate was imposed by Transport Canada and WestJet would have faced penalties for not complying, the plaintiffs argue the company could have resisted but instead went aboveboard.

“Their aggressive enforcement resulted in unconstitutional abuse of thousands of people. Simply following orders has not historically been, nor will it be, an excuse to violate human rights and informed consent,” says Cause For Action.

Constitutional lawyer Leighton Grey, of Grey Wowk Spencer LLP, is representing the plaintiffs. Grey represents employees from other companies in similar actions, notably railways CN and CP, and courier company Purolator.

The Epoch Times reached out to WestJet and Transport Canada for comment but we didn’t hear back immediately.

A Transport Canada statement to The Epoch Times from May on the issue of mandates says the “Government of Canada’s position is that the vaccination mandate is consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as Canada’s obligations in the area of human rights.”

It says the mandate was necessary to “safeguard” the transportation system.

Free to Fly, an advocacy group of aviation professionals and passengers affected by the vaccine mandates, welcomed the legal action.

“Justice needs to be seen, to be done, and we’re committed to that and to ensuring what happened to employees across this nation never happens again,” says the group’s co-founder Greg Hill.

“This is a battle on many fronts and we’re quick to point out that a rising tide floats all boats, so gains on one front will benefit the majority.”

New WestJet CEO Against Restrictions

The federal government’s vaccine mandates for air travellers and transportation workers came into force in October 2021 and was suspended in June.

“Vaccination is our best way out of this pandemic, and more than 98 per cent of our workforce self-declared their full-vaccination intent prior to the implementation of these policies,” said then WestJet CEO Ed Sims in an Oct. 22 statement.

Alexis von Hoensbroech replaced Sims as CEO in February and soon after started publicly criticizing  federal restrictions.

He questioned the mask requirement in March, and then the travel vaccine mandate in May. Von Hoensbroech released a statement in late September to welcome the lifting of the remaining border restrictions on Oct. 1.

“We are relieved our guests can finally travel with additional confidence and certainty, knowing they can make decisions that are the best for them, and their travel plans won’t be interrupted,” said von Hoensbroech.

Air Canada also commented on the issue and said the government’s measures “were not justified by science.”

The government itself admitted during travel mandate legal proceedings to having little data on the impact of vaccination on in-flight viral transmission and its own research indicated that risk to be low.

Noé Chartier


Noé Chartier is an Epoch Times reporter based in Montreal.

Twitter: @NChartierET
Gettr: @nchartieret

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