Woman alleges STM driver harassed daughter for not speaking French

Photo credit: La Presse

Joanne Black wants answers after her 16-year-old daughter was allegedly targetted by the same Société de Transport de Montréal bus driver twice in under a month for not speaking in French.

Black emailed yourstory@cjad.com after hearing that a female STM bus driver refused to speak to her daughter Morgan in English when Morgan spoke English to the driver.

According to Black, the driver first tried to coax Morgan into speaking French when she tried to exit the bus on June 7 by keeping the bus doors closed when Morgan was trying to leave, simply repeating "good night" to her in French, and only opening the doors after Morgan responded in French.

Just over three weeks later, Black says Morgan encountered the same driver.

Greeting the driver in English, Black says the driver then told Morgan repeatedly "you can speak French." Black says the driver even shouted the comment at Morgan after she had taken a seat at the back of the bus.

When it was time for Morgan to disembark, Black says the driver didn't stop—even though Morgan had signaled it was her stop and was waiting at the back doors of the bus.

When Morgan tried to bring this to driver's attention she was again told to speak in French, according to Black, to which Morgan responded by saying she didn't have to.

It was then Black says that Morgan confronted the bus driver about the incident on June 7, but the driver said Morgan was "imagining things" before finally stopping the bus and letting Morgan off.

"[My daughter] doesn't need this kind of crap," said Black. "It's just ridiculous, and believe you me, she speaks French fluently, she's just not interested in dealing with something like that."

"Bottom line is she's a bus driver, she should stick to doing her job. The passengers have a right to go where the need to go without any confrontation."

Black says she and her daughter have filed a complaint with the STM.

STM spokesperson Amélie Régis says the STM will conduct an internal investigation once the complaint is seen and processed.

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  1. Marcus posted on 06/27/2014 03:31 PM
    This is sad. Most bus drivers are very nice in the NDG area. I once had a drive confront me for being on my phone when I walked on the bus and said I was being rude. I told him that I was the customer and to mind his business.
    1. joanne black posted on 06/29/2014 12:02 PM
      @Marcus This occurred in the West island. On bus #203 & 201; same driver.
  2. WI Mom posted on 06/27/2014 05:31 PM
    Would be helpful to know which bus route. My older teens have had similar issues here on the West Island with rude French-speaking bus drivers. STM employees should only concern themselves with rider safety, and ensuring passengers pay their fares and are not disruptive... not with being language cops. Last time I checked, speaking English is not against the law.
    1. joanneb_7740 posted on 06/29/2014 04:13 PM
      @WI Mom This was in the West Island, #203 and the #201. I must say this was pure harassment on the part of the driver trying to enforce a young girl to converse solely in French, who I might mention is fluently bilingual. The driver also tried to impose a french response from another young girl as she got off the bus! I am also outraged that the driver tried to grab my daughters' arm as she walked towards the back of the bus, only to have her arm swing her arm back in avoidance.

      The STM comments that they are in their legal right to not communicate in English, this is not the point! They do not have the right to harass people and impose their political perspectives on passengers. As a matter of fact, their job is to stick to their job at hand, and to drive the bus!!! Is this driver unaccountable for her behaviour? No doubt my daughter will meet up with her again since this is a common bus route she takes. I will be sure to meet up with her at her stop in the future. -Joanne Black
  3. Maida posted on 06/27/2014 05:38 PM
    Wow! I cannot believe that. Did it happen on the 102 bus? This bus goes right on my street in front of my place and I have never had problems. I am shocked to hear this. Obviously the driver has issues and is a nutcase. He/she should be suspended without pay.

    I hope you get some response with your complaints. Good luck.
  4. Stalemate posted on 06/27/2014 08:55 PM
    This, like all the other language related complaints placed these last years, will end up being ignored for lack of proof.

    Mark my words.
  5. Laurie posted on 06/28/2014 12:53 PM
    There's no requirement for bus drivers to address or respond to anyone in English so I don't hink that should even be mentioned or be an issue (yes, it is respectful, and in a predominately anglo neighborhood, it's a no-brainer to make the effort). But the rest of it - locking the girl in the bus, refusing to let her off until she speaks French - wow. That is harassment and intimidation of the lowest kind. And if history is anything to go by, the STM will pretend to talk to the driver and then conclude from their imaginary meeting that there was no wrong-doing, and the meanness will go on.
  6. al posted on 06/29/2014 09:46 AM
    Record it.
    1. joanne black posted on 06/29/2014 12:07 PM
      @al My daughter most likely will meet up with this driver again. We (her parents) will be meeting up with her at her stop. And yes, Laurie, it's all about harassment. I still cannot believe the driver tried to grab my daughter's sleeve as she walked by, she avoided this my moving her arm quickly. There is no accountability for this driver's behaviour unfortunately. Will post back if I hear from the STM.
  7. joanneb_7740 posted on 06/30/2014 03:05 PM
    I received a call from an STM rep. They will be meeting with the driver to discuss the complaint.
  8. Johnny Aroma posted on 07/01/2014 09:14 AM
    I work at the STM and while most drivers are quite professional its unfortunate that its always these narrow minded separatist a-holes that put a blemish on the rest. Drive your bus and unless it has to do with on- goings in the bus such as safety, shut up and drive the bus, driver.
    Everybody must keep in mind that the STM is and has been changing its image and how it deals with its employees, and not for the better. On the whole employees are treated like garbage regardless of their salary. Its a question of mutual respect which is sadly missing. So if management is coming down on a driver for what ever reason you can be assured that will translate to a pissed off bus driver. On the other hand some are just ignorant.
    In no situation is a driver allowed to touch anyone in an aggressive manner, this warrants immediate dismissal and a potential lawsuit.
  9. Lance Lyons posted on 07/03/2014 06:29 AM
    Isn't it just great to see how the process was truly meant to work. Bring in the O.L.A. to make French an official language from coast to coast. Tread softly while dumping billions of dollars to manipulate the 'bleeding-heart' English into becoming bilingual and billions more to bolster French as the official, and only official, language in regions of Canada such as QC, NB and ON. The stage for this civil unrest was made legal 50 yrs. ago and we're too embarrassed, too proud, too stubborn and too weak to change. L+
  10. Adam posted on 07/03/2014 07:35 PM
    Call it a crazy hunch, if it was a driver who did this in English, that the driver would be served with his/her head on a pike in front of the STM with several apologizes, and them hiring French drivers right away.
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