Paralympian Sues Canadian Airlines For Discrimination
- Written by George Sensalis
Canadian Paralympics gold medallist Paul Gauthier launched a class action lawsuit against Canadian airlines for discriminating against people with disabilities by means of overcharging for safety companions’ seats.
Paralympian Paul Gauthier and Christopher Reaume, a quadriplegic engineer from Calgary, filed a notice of civil claim under the Class Proceedings Act on August 3rd, 2021. The lawsuit names Air Canada, WestJet, Air Canada Rouge, Jazz Aviation, and Chorus Aviation as defendants.
The class-action lawsuit claims Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge General Partner Inc., Chorus Aviation Inc, Jazz Aviation LP, and WestJet impose their disabled customers to pay premium costs if they need more than one seat on international flights, despite the Canadian Transport Agency (CTA) ending the practice for domestic flights back in 2008.
The Canadian Transport Agency ruled in 2008 that pricing per seat “amounted to undue obstacles to the mobility of people with disabilities,” and was in violation of the Canadian Transportation Act, according to the class-action lawsuit. However, the decision only applied to domestic flights.
“Class members have no ability to bargain with the defendants over the defendants’ tariffs or pricing policies or contracts,” the lawsuit says. “The defendants’ fares and contractual terms are a "take it or leave it" proposition, leaving the Class with no alternative but to pay the additional fares to travel by air with the defendants.”
“People with disabilities must still pay a higher cost to fly internationally even though there is no principled basis to distinguish between domestic and international flights,” the class-action lawsuit contends.
Gauthier and Reaume seek class certification, damages for unjust enrichment, and an injunction restraining the defendant airlines from continuing the practice, which allegedly violates provincial consumer protection legislation from coast to coast. The allegations have yet to be tested in court.