Jewish civil servant was discriminated against, board rules


TORONTO (JTA) — The Canadian government discriminated against a Jewish civil servant because she followed the rules of her religion, a federal adjudicator ruled.

The ruling agreed that Valery LaBranche’s workplace at the Ottawa headquarters of Passport Canada was poisoned by anti-Semitism, the Ottawa Citizen reported.

The decision found that LaBranche’s colleagues discriminated against her because she would leave work early on Fridays to observe the Sabbath and took off Jewish holidays, and that "her bosses did little or nothing to help her," the Citizen said.

LaBranche, who converted to Judaism in 1997, said she had been deeply traumatized by her treatment, had to seek medical treatment and take time off work. She launched her grievance in January 2007.

According to the adjudicator’s decision, obtained by the Citizen, LaBranche became ill and unable to work after anonymous anti-Semitic messages were sent to her superiors.

One read, "Be aware of Mrs. LaBranche. She is a Mossad agent." A second said, "The Jew sucks your blood. Don’t fall into her trap. You will make her go swiftly or we will make her go slowly and painfully! It’s your choice!!!"

LaBranche said she felt humiliated when she was told to fill out forms in order to observe holy days. She also felt isolated by not being unable to take part in "dress-down" Fridays or go out to restaurants with co-workers.

The decision slammed the federal department, saying it was more interested in protecting itself than LaBranche’s well-being.

In a separate action, LaBranche is seeking damages for pain and suffering.

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