Resignation lost in translation (Legal View)

Non-English-speaking worker with sore feet wanted to ‘stop working’ but HR supervisor at meat packing plant wrongly interpreted request as ‘I quit’
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 05/17/2013

An Ontario company didn’t properly confirm if an employee who couldn’t speak English actually resigned, resulting in wrongful dismissal, an arbitrator has ruled in reinstating the woman.

Irondina Nunes, 62, was hired by Quality Meat Packers in Toronto to cut and pack ribs in October 1999. Nunes didn’t understand English and only spoke Portuguese, so her hiring and orientation were handled by the HR supervisor, who spoke Portuguese and verbally translated all necessary forms for Nunes.

Nunes was considered a good employee and her employment continued without event until 2010, when she began suffering pain and swelling in her feet.