[lg policy] Harassed for not speaking enough French? Heart Institute employees claim 'toxic environment'

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Wed May 8 11:51:55 EDT 2019

Harassed for not speaking enough French? Heart Institute employees claim
'toxic environment'

Harassed for not speaking French?

Some employees at the Montreal Heart Institute claim they’re being harassed
for not speaking enough French.

CTV Montreal
Published Monday, May 6, 2019 5:38PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, May 6, 2019 7:43PM EDT

Some employees at the Montreal Heart Institute claim they're being harassed
for not speaking enough French.

At least three people have approached anti-racism group CRARR, saying
they've been targeted for speaking in either Spanish or Arabic in private
conversations on their breaks.

“Many of these minority workers feel that they're being policed, feeling
like they're under constant scrutiny and working in a very toxic
environment,” said CRARR director Fo Niemi.
[image: Montreal Heart Institute]

Montreal Heart Institute

One Arabic-speaking employee, who did not want to be identified, said his
supervisor told him that if everyone at the institute spoke a different
language it would be “anarchy.”

He said he was told if he wanted to speak anything other than French, he
should do so on his own time.

The hospital said there is no policy prohibiting other languages than
French in private conversations. It does insist on French when discussing
patient care among staff.

“Mainly we are concerned by security and quality of care” said Liza
O’Doherty, the Montreal Heart Institute’s director of nursing. “But
otherwise, when people are on their break or on their lunchtime, they're
allowed to speak the language they want and patients can be treated here in
other languages other than French. There's no problem with that.”

One employee said he received a written warning from his supervisor for
speaking Arabic during a private conversation. The hospital said it appears
to be an isolated incident.

The hospital is investigating the complaints and wants to know if the
employees were the victims of an overzealous manager.

Even if they were, language watchdog the OQLF says that person would have
crossed a line.

“The French charter does not apply to private conversation even if it’s at
work,” said OQLF spokesperson Julie Letourneau.

The heart institute will discuss whether it needs to make any changes to
its language policy at its next board meeting next week.


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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