Photo: bri yyz via flickr
Canadian civil servant and language zealot Michel Thibodeau was on an Air Canada flight to Atlanta when he ordered a 7-Up, in French.The flight attendant, who spoke only English, brought the man a Sprite.
Thibodeau used this scandal as one example in his second successful suit against Air Canada for violating bilingualism laws.
Thibodeau, who happens to speak English fluently, was awarded $12,000. More on the settlement from Canada.com:
“The applicants’ language rights are clearly very important to them and the violation of their rights caused them a moral prejudice, pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of their vacation,” Justice Marie-Josee Bedard wrote in her judgment.
“It is also my opinion that awarding damages in this case will serve the purpose of emphasising the importance of the rights at issue and will have a deterrent effect.”
Thibodeau and his wife said they were satisfied with the settlement though disappointed having sued for $525,000.
In 2000 the Thibodeau’s sued Air Ontario for being refused service from an English speaking flight attendant on a flight from Montreal to Ottawa and received $5,375.95.
Air Canada admits four breaches in the Thibodeau case:
- No translation of an announcement made in English by the pilot concerning the arrival time and weather on flight AC8622 flying the Atlanta-Toronto route on Feb. 1, 2009: Air Canada acknowledges that the announcement should have been translated by the flight attendant (who was bilingual) because it was a flight on which there was significant demand for services in French.
- No services in French on board flight AC7923 flying the Charlotte-Toronto route on May 12, 2009. Air Canada acknowledges that there was no bilingual flight attendant on this flight and that it was a flight on which there was significant demand for services in French.
- Announcement made in English only to passengers concerning baggage collection at the Toronto airport on May 12, 2009: Air Canada admits that this announcement should have been made in English and French because the Toronto airport is an airport where there is significant demand for services in French.
- The court ruled Air Canada breached its duty to provide French services four times and awarded the each of the Thibodeaus $6,000 in damages, or $1,500 for each breach, (plus $6,982.19 in costs.) The couple had sought $5,000 for each infraction, for a total of $25,000.
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