Dealing with workplace harassment, bullying and discrimination to create a respectful workplace

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Here's a FREE selection of articles that address many different problems and situations in your workplace.

ARTICLES

#39
WHEN AN EMPLOYEE WON’T WORK WITH A CO-WORKER BECAUSE HE SAYS HE NEEDS MORE (OR BETTER) ENGLISH

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Most Canadians need workable knowledge of one (or sometimes both) of our official languages. Sometimes that’s not a requirement because of the tasks involved in the job, or they may have another person who can translate for them – of course that’s the choice of the employer to allow that. For all other jobs, you need to speak English or French, depending on the working language of your workplace. However sometimes the employer thinks a person’s English is good enough while an employee is unwilling to work with that person, saying their English skills aren’t good enough. Sometimes the concerns are legitimate, such as when safety is an issue. Other times it might be a bit frustrating as conversations need to be repeated. However, let’s say our example involves the employee’s English being “good enough” and not a safety risk, but you have to convince the other employee to keep working with this employee.

 

TRY THIS:

 

It’s best to acknowledge frustrations or concerns about the language skills of your colleague. Then it’s important to listen to the concerns the employee has over the language skills of their co-worker and why he feels he can’t work with him. While language, on its own is not a protected ground of discrimination in most of Canada, there are other protections, that depending on the circumstances, could bring in the protections of race, ancestry, and place of origin. Again, it depends on each unique situation. You don’t want this employee or your workplace to get enmeshed in a formal human rights case, or lose a good employee, as tensions can get high around language.

 

HOW ABOUT:

 

“I understand your frustration understanding everything Wei says and how you sometimes have to repeat yourself to ensure he completely understands what you tell him. However, from what you’ve told me, this doesn’t come down to a safety problem because you ensure there is proper communication when something might get dangerous at work. I thank you for being diligent on that, as you should be. However, I need us to work things out so you will continue to work with Wei. He’s been very good about improving his English and he continues to do so. From the employers perspective, while we know his English isn’t perfect, we think it’s good enough and we are glad he’s getting much better. Let’s talk about the problems you’ve encountered and the effective ways you can ensure there is proper communication…”

 

 

Stephen Hammond, B.A., LL.B., CSP

 

If you have any questions, please contact Stephen.

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© STEPHEN HAMMOND - HARASSMENT SOLUTIONS INC.    
 
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Here's a FREE selection of articles that address many different problems and situations in your workplace.

Here's a FREE selection of articles that address many different problems and situations in your workplace.

© STEPHEN HAMMOND HARASSMENT SOLUTIONS INC.
 
  
 
CONTACT