Can an employer ask to not speak french during work hours between colleagues in Alberta? Hourly, full time

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Customer: Can an employer ask to not speak french during work hours between colleagues in Alberta?
JA: Is this an hourly or salaried position? Part time or full time?
Customer: Hourly, full time
JA: Have you talked to an Alberta lawyer about this issue?
Customer: No
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: No
Answered by Debra in 1 hour 2 years ago
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Debra
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Debra, Expert

Hello! My name is Debra (formerly known as Legal Ease). Thank you for your question. I'm reviewing it now, and will post back again shortly.

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Debra, Expert

Are you in a union?

Customer
No
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Debra, Expert

Can the co-workers speak English very well or is it harder for them to communicate in English?

Customer
We have French and English speaker... yes they can speak English well, but sometimes it's easier and faster for them to speak french to explain things.
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Debra, Expert

Then it is most likely the case that the employer could be found to be in breach of the Human Rights Code.

The law is not clear in this area but caselaw so far in Alberta has held that where an employee can do better by speaking in another language with another employee it is discrimination on the basis of country of origin to not allow them to communicate in that more comfortable language.

However, it may make more sense for you to confirm this with the human rights commission on Monday. Here's a link to their website:

https://www.albertahumanrights.ab.ca/about/pages/contact.aspx

Does that help as a starting point?

Please feel free to post back with any follow-up questions you may have. If you don't have any then I hope I have earned a 5 star rating but if you don't feel that I have please don't hesitate to reply back and let me know what more I can do to assist you. Finally, please know that even after you rate me I will be here for you and you can ask follow-up questions if you think of them later on at no further charge of course.

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