Language barrier casts doubt on worker’s resignation

Non-English-speaking employee wanted to take time off because of injury, but employer thought she was quitting
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 05/15/2013

An Ontario company didn’t properly confirm if an employee who couldn’t speak English resigned, an arbitrator has ruled.

Irondina Nunes, 62, was hired by Quality Meat Packers in Toronto to cut and pack back ribs, in October 1999. Nunes didn’t understand English and only spoke Portuguese, so her hiring and orientation was handled by the HR supervisor, who spoke Portuguese and verbally translated all necessary forms.

Nunes was considered a good employee and her employment continued without event until 2010, when she began suffering pain and swelling in her feet. She discussed it with her foreman, but she didn’t have to take any time off until June 11, 2011, when she asked to leave work two hours early.