Heart Institute workers scolded for not speaking French on their breaks

Some workers at the Montreal Heart Institute are angry that they've been reprimanded for speaking a language other than French during their break time. 

Some of the workers there told the Montreal Gazette they were scolded for speaking Spanish and Arabic among themselves during their down time, and one told the paper they were written up for responding to an anglophone patient in English.

While Quebec's language laws allow institutions to set their own policies on language, there's nothing in it that governs the language used by workers on their own time.

The workers contacted the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), and together, they're considering filing a complaint.

"They felt intimidated, harassed, and they felt they were working in an oppressive work climate," CRARR's director, Fo Niemi, told CJAD 800. "Interpreting the French Language Charter to the point where people can't even talk in private conversations at work in their native language — it's disturbing."

The Institute does have a cultural diversity policy in place, but a spokesperson told CTV Montreal that no formal policy exists banning the use of languages other than French by workers on their off-hours. 

The spokesperson says they are investigating what happened, and suggested the workers may have been the victims of an overzealous manager.