Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montreal, August 4, 2011 --- Around one hundred workers - some 75% of whom are racialized and immigrant women (of Black, Arab and Latin-American ancestries) - are seeking $6 M in damages from the Centre de réadaptation en déficience intellectuelle et trouble envahissant du développement de Montréal (CRDITED de Montréal) for discrimination in the workplace.

These employees, some of whom can point to more than 20 years experience at CRDITED - formerly the Centre de réadaptation Lisette Dupras - have entrusted the CRARR with the task of representing them and helping them with two complaints lodged with the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission (CDPDJ).

The first complaint was lodged in 2008 and the second earlier this week. The two complaints focus on the salary conditions of the victims and an employee benefit plan that are considerably inferior to the working conditions of other workers in the Quebec Health and Social Services system.

These workers were paid by two different employment agencies (SAPH and SAD), whose only client was the CRDITED de Montréal, at an hourly rate of $10-12 for work for which those who were directly employed by the rehabilitation centre earned $19 an hour. On June 22, 2011, the Labor Relations Board (Commission des relations de travail, CRT) unequivocally ruled that the center was the true employer and the workers should be integrated into the workforce accordingly. The CRDITED de Montréal still refuses to acknowledge the CRT's decision, which is nonetheless not open to appeal, and continues to accrue damages. Since March 31, 2011, all 130 employees hired under both agencies were laid off and a portion has been called back in recent weeks.

“This case perfectly illustrates the new form of economic exploitation that immigrant and racialized people - mostly women - are subjected to in the health sector, where privatisation, delegating to the non-profit sector and subcontracting are creating new classes of the underpaid,” said Mr. Alain Croteau, one the workers who lodged the first complaint with the CDPDJ in 2008.

Added Ms. Micheline Alcindor, one of the workers who has been laid off, “Most immigrant women who worked at CRDITED de Montréal know that they are under-paid and exploited because they are women and immigrant, and in their name, let me say this: “Discrimination is not part of our job! in 2011.”

“What is unique in this case is that Québécois workers, who were in a minority position at the Centre, were also affected by discriminatory working conditions, which opens the door for a claim of discrimination by association”, said CRARR's Executive Director Fo Niemi. “It shows that discrimination touches everyone.”

CRARR is asking the CDPDJ to conduct an in-depth systemic investigation into this situation and to launch legal proceedings to repair the serious prejudices that theses workers have suffered for many years. It is claiming retroactive salaries and benefits for the workers, as well as $20,000 in moral and punitive benefits for each person, which could end up costing CRDITED and the other parties more than $6 M.