IGA suspends supervisor after employee told to only speak French
A supervisor at a Quebec IGA store who told a 17-year-old employee to only speak French on the premises has been suspended.
Store owner Louise Menard said Thursday she had suspended the head of human resources, who was recorded saying the employee break room would become a “ghetto” if languages other than French were spoken.
Menard chalked up the incident to a miscommunication.
"Whether it’s from … burnout, or fatigue, I don’t know, except it was very poor communication since she knows the regulations of our workplace. We want her to take a break now,” Menard told CTV Montreal. “She accepts the decision and understands it.”
Meaghan Moran said two co-workers told her she could not speak English when working at her part-time job at the grocery store, located in Montreal’s South Shore.
In an audio recording of a conversation between Moran and two of her superiors, one supervisor is heard saying: “If we permit languages other than French to be spoken, what will happen in the employees’ room. We’ll have a ghetto.”
The same supervisor is also recorded saying: “Inside these walls people speak the language of work, which is Quebec’s language. It’s the law.”
On Thursday, Menard released a statement saying the report “wrongly suggested that IGA Louise Menard in Saint-Lambert has a policy forbidding its employees from speaking English in the break room.”
Menard said there are no restrictions on speaking English, or any other language, in the store.
On Wednesday, CTV Montreal reported that Menard said in a telephone interview that employees are asked to speak French at all times, but that it is not required.
No part of Quebec’s language laws mandates that only French be spoken in the course of a work day.
Quebec’s minister responsible for Montreal, Jean-Francois Lisee, responded to questions about the incident on Thursday.
“I think that people who have lunch breaks can discuss in any language they choose, and I think a good manager should know that and implement that with good sense,” Lisee told reporters.
Sobey’s, IGA’s parent company, told CTV that the case is an isolated incident.
Moran quit her job, and has since received messages of support on Facebook for speaking out about her experience.
She says she stands by her decision.
“If not more, because I’m getting support,” Moran said Thursday.
Moran’s mother, Julie Riviere, said while employees should “speak French first to the customers, that’s customer service in Quebec,” workers should be “entitled to speak whatever language” they want while on break.
She also believes the supervisors were “taking advantage” of her daughter. “She’s young,” Riviere said.
Moran contacted Quebec’s Human Rights Commission Thursday and says she has decided to file a complaint.
With a report from CTV Montreal’s Cindy Sherwin