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Human rights

Language: prohibited ground of discrimination and harassment | CDPDJ

Language

Language

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You believe you have been a victim of discrimination or harassment based on this ground?

Language is a prohibited ground of discrimination and harassment.This means that you cannot be treated differently because of the language you speak or your accent. As well, you cannot be the target of offensive and repeated remarks or behaviour because of your language or accent. These situations are contrary to the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms This link will redirect you to an external Website in a new window..

For example, you cannot be excluded from a citizens’ committee because your mother tongue is Spanish.

It should be noted that the status of French as an official language in Québec is not discriminatory.

James is looking for a job in the construction industry. He fills out an application form to work for Construx, the company in the city closest to the native reserve where he lives. One of the questions concerns his mother tongue. He fears that if he answers “Cree”, he would be subject to discrimination.

 

The following judgments are examples related to this ground of discrimination. The complete list of judgments issued by Canadian Courts are available on the Canadian Legal Information Institute’s website This link will redirect you to an external Website in a new window.. You can do a search by grounds of discrimination.

Here are some of our publications related to this ground of discrimination. You can find all our publications on this ground of discrimination using a keyword on the Publications' page.

English language translations are provided when available.

Here are some news releases published by the Commission over the years. You can find all our news releases on this ground of discrimination using a keyword on the Media room’s page.

English language translations are provided when available.

  • 2013: Projet de loi 14 : la Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse demande des modifications
  • 2010: Projet de loi 103 modifiant la Charte de la langue française : La Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse demande des modifications (PDF, 25 Ko)

Please note: These answers are to be used for information purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice.

  1. Can an employer ask me what my mother tongue is in an interview or on a job application form?

    No. However, an employer may ask you if you can understand, speak, read or write the language(s) required for the job.

  2. Maria was born in Chile. She graduated from a Québec university and taught French in the same school for 10 years. In the new school where she is now working, the parents’ committee asked that she stop teaching French because of her accent. Is she a victim of discrimination?

    Yes, Maria has the training, skills and experience to teach French. Her accent does not affect her skills to teach the language.

  3. Is the obligation for my children to attend French school a form of discrimination if English is their mother tongue?

    Restrictions regarding the language of instruction in schools depending on the province and the language of the majority are not discriminatory, as they are provided for in section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This constitutional obligation is also found in section 73 of the Charter of the French Language, which provides that instruction in English is only available to children whose parents have received instruction in English.

  4. I work in a factory where several employees, including myself, are Chinese. During our coffee or lunch break, we often speak Mandarin. Our supervisor tells us to speak Québécois and threatens to fire us. Is he allowed to do that?

    No, your supervisor’s behaviour could be considered harassment based on language. Unless the supervisor can prove that speaking French at all times in the workplace is a reasonable requirement—i.e. linked to health or the safety of the premises—he cannot keep you from speaking Mandarin during your breaks.

 
The following video is in American Sign Language (ASL) and is not accessible with a screen reader.

This video presents the topic of language in American Sign Language (ASL)  This link will redirect you to an external website which may present barriers to accessibility..

 

Did you know?

In Québec, French is the official language. The other principal languages spoken include English, Italian, Arabic, and Spanish. Cree is the aboriginal language most spoken in Québec, followed by Montagnais and Inuktitut.

 

 

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