VP of Valentine apologizes to employee who was told not to speak English at work
An employee working for a Quebec fast-food chain said she was shamed by management for speaking English at work.
The worker, who wants to remain anonymous, showed up for work at the Valentine restaurant in Deux-Montaganes on Saturday, and found a note with her name in bold posted on a bulletin board saying employees should only speak to each other in French.
After seeing the note, she explained to CTV Montreal that she was in state of shock after seeing the message posted next to the schedule for all to see.
She was shaken up by the incident and went back home. Later, the manager spoke with her husband over the phone and told him that she should drop off her uniform at the restaurant.
Though fluently bilingual, the woman occasionally spoke to another Anglophone colleague in English at the back of the restaurant. She said she had no idea about the issue until she saw the note.
“If there was an issue, nobody talked to me about it. The owner didn’t talk to me about it, the manager didn’t talk to me about it. If they have a problem with employees they take them to the office in back and talk to them in private. They didn’t even show me the decency to do that. They just put a note for all of the co-workers to see it came as quite a shock,” she said.
“I was in such shock and disbelief that they would do that and that they would be allowed to do that.”
Since speaking with the employee, CTV has received answers from the vice-president of Valentine, Francis Robin.
“We’re definitely sorry about this situation," said Francis in a phone call to reporter Maya Johnson. "The posting of that note was the decision of one person and does not reflect our company’s values in any way."
Robin added that the employee has the right to speak either French or English: "We live in a free country.”
The owner of the Deux-Montagnes franchise is out of the country on vacation, Robin explained, and the note likely would not have been posted by the manager and the situation wouldn’t have escalated to this point under the owner’s watch.
The owner of the restaurant will meet with the manager, and Robin said he expects the manager will contact the employee to apologize and could potentially face consequences.
He says the fact that the manager called the employee the day after the incident and told her to bring back her uniform “was not right."
The woman told CTV Montreal Tuesday that language had never been an issue at her work.
Past incidents elsewhere
This is not the first time that an employee is singled out for speaking in English at work.
In one instance in June 2013, a teenager working at the IGA in Saint-Lambert was also told she wasn’t allowed to speak English anywhere at work. Soon after, the IGA franchise suspended the manager who “mishandled” the situation.
The Office Québécois de la Langue Française told CTV Montreal at the time that there is no provision in the French language charter that prevents employees from speaking English to each other during the course of a workday.