Janitors have brought a complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario against their employer, GDI Integrated Facility Services, and the property manager of the apartment building the janitors were tasked with cleaning, GWL Realty Advisors Inc
OTTAWA, Ontario, May 25, 2021 — Janitors alleging racist attacks were laid off in the middle of the pandemic by their employer, GDI Integrated Facility Services. The two janitors, Nadia Mondeseme and Bichara Dorlean have filed a human rights complaint against both GDI and the property manager of the apartment building they were tasked with cleaning, GWL Realty Advisors Inc. Modeseme and Dorlean are Black immigrants from Haiti.
Dorlean alleges, “We were faced with racism and false accusations for months, and then we were unjustly let go.”
Mondeseme and Dorlean have submitted their complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. In it, they outline multiple incidents of discrimination at their workplace, with no redress despite them seeking to have their concerns addressed multiple times. The Tribunal has instructed the employer and the property manager to submit a response by June 21st.
In one event, Mondeseme was falsely accused of stealing from the residents of the apartment building she cleans after she and Dorlean were attempting to return old work uniforms to their supervisor. In another incident, they were charged with engaging in racist speech while talking about “white privilege” and “Black Lives Matter”.
Dorlean explains the event from her point of view: “First of all, we were not speaking about those topics to begin with, this is a false accusation. But second of all, Nadia and I speak in our native Haitian Creole together, so it’s unlikely that anyone would have understood us in any case. Third of all, what is racist about speaking on white privilege and Black Lives Matter?”
In another incident, Mondeseme alleges she was hit with a spray bottle by a co-worker and called racist slurs. When she went to her employer to seek redress, none was forthcoming.
Modeseme and Dorlean were let go at the request of the apartment building property manager, GWL Realty Advisors Inc., in January. Modeseme and Dorlean allege that voicing their concerns about racial discrimination is what led to their removal.
Dorlean says, “Every person deserves a good work environment, and the pandemic was already stressful for us as janitors. We received no pandemic premium or any extra help. And then we were faced with a bad work environment, and finally let go for false reasons. We just want some basic fairness.”
SEIU Local 2 represents workers in Nova Scotia, Ontario, Alberta, New Brunswick and British Columbia.
Contact: Assya Moustaqim-Barrette