The Montreal Gazette reports that the Quebec Tribunal of Human Rights has handed down a $4,000 CAD fine to a man for “intolerable racist conduct” on a call with a Bell Canada customer service agent in 2016.
According to the report, the caller in question, Jean-François Éthier, called to cancel his service. When the agent, Mohamed Jied, mentioned his first name to the Éthier, the recording shows that the call broke down into a fight, with Éthier shouting racist insults.
“Take your bags, take your turban and get out of Quebec,” the caller says at one part during the recorded conversation, to which Jied replies: “I am Canadian.”
The two individuals started hurling insults at one another. “Get f—ed, okay? Young man, f— you …,” Jied said. The caller replied: “You are all terrorists. That is guaranteed.”
The Montreal Gazette sheds some light on what happened next:
Jied, who worked in the customer retention department for Nordia Inc., which handles customer service calls for Bell Canada. Jied was suspended six days later and fired four days after that, but he successfully appealed the decision at a Feb. 5 labour board hearing.
At the labour board hearing, Jied said he took a break after the call and tried to call Éthier back three times to apologize, which is against company policy to do without permission. Jied said he was sent to voicemail and did not leave a message, but Nordia said the calls lasted nine minutes, three minutes, and 34 seconds, and concluded that Jied was attempting to intimidate the client. It said Jied “severely” insulted the client and threatened him by saying “I have your address here, friend, we’ll see” during the initial call.
Jied then successfully appealed the decision at a labour board hearing and the case went before the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal.
“Discriminatory language, because of its hostility and intensity, constitutes intolerable racist conduct in a free and democratic society with such fundamental values as those underlying the Charter Of Rights,” wrote judge Mario Gervais in his ruling.
“The words spoken cross the high threshold required in case law to constitute a discriminatory infringement of Mr. Jied’s right to dignity,” Gervaise continued.
The judge also wrote the caller’s words sought to deliberately “denigrate and humiliate” Jied by “attacking his personal characteristics.”