# 2014-010 - Official Languages Act, Right to Grieve, Second Official Language Competency

Official Languages Act, Right to Grieve, Second Official Language Competency

Case Summary

F&R Date: 2014–10–31

The grievor, a unilingual Francophone member, informed his chain of command that he was having a great deal of difficulty performing his job and supervising in an English-speaking environment. A few months later, the grievor was sent on a one-year language course. In the months that followed, while the grievor was on language training, he was treated for major depression and suicidal thoughts. Having achieved an A-A-A linguistic profile, the grievor was transferred and assigned to a position requiring a B-A-B level of language proficiency. Medical personnel intervened and the grievor's transfer was eventually cancelled. The grievor challenges the decision to transfer him into a work environment where he was not proficient in the language and into a position for which he did not have the required linguistic profile, demanding to pursue his career in an exclusively French-speaking environment, without prejudice or reprisal.

Having found that the grievor's intention was to be granted the right to work and have a career solely in his chosen language while keeping his working conditions, benefits and opportunities for promotion, the Initial Authority denied the grievance on the grounds that it was not a valid grievance under Chapter 7 of the Queen's Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Forces.

The Committee concluded that the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), in fulfilling their mission, may assign members wherever their services are required. Furthermore, the Committee noted that certain trades, including that of the grievor, require a member to be able to serve anywhere in the world as part of joint and international operations, which makes the possibility of working entirely in one single language even more problematic. The Committee concluded that the grievor's demand to pursue his career solely in French-speaking units could not be granted because it runs counter to a fundamental requirement of military service.

That said, the Committee stated it was of the view nevertheless that the CAF had certain obligations when determining the assignments and career paths of its members. While there is no right to pursue one's career solely in the language of one's choice, the Committee found that the decision to transfer the grievor into a bilingual position knowing that he did not meet the requirements of the position violated DAOD 5039-0, Official Languages and the Directive on Official Languages for People Management. Moreover, according to the Committee, the grievor's transfer did not respect the personnel management objective of the Chief of Military Personnel, namely, to have the right sailor, soldier, airman and airwoman, possessing the right qualifications, in the right place at the right time.

The Committee recommended that the Chief of the Defence Staff deny the grievance.

CDS Decision Summary

CDS Decision Date: 2015–02–23

The FA found that the grievor had been treated fairly in accordance with the applicable rules, regulations and policies. The FA determined that, since the grievor's deployment had been cancelled, the subject of the grievance had been resolved. The FA agreed with “the detailed analysis of the peripheral elements” of the file by the Committee and the resulting conclusions. The FA endorsed the Committee's recommendation to reject the grievance.

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