Personal trainer at Concordia University accuses boss of harassment
MONTREAL — Rose Tandel worked as a personal trainer at Concordia University’s Le Gym for close to five years.
She was apparently a model employee, and was working more than full time as a CPR instructor and gym floor monitor.
But Tandel told Global News that she was forced to quit in January after enduring months of what she calls psychological harassment.
“This was malicious, intentionally malicious on the part of the associate director and on the part of the chief of HR.”
The 28-year-old claimed it all started the day she was told to confront a co-worker about his religious habits, and ask him to stop praying in the hallway.
“My co-worker was praying in a private secluded area of Le Gym, most of us knew he was doing that,” said Tandel, who refused her boss’ request to intervene.
“I was telling him what he was doing is absolutely wrong,” she said.
“I told him he went against the Charter of Human Rights.”
“He had the audacity to tell me that I may not know this, but that the Charter of Human Rights has no power within the walls of Concordia.”
After filing a complaint with the university, Tandel said she became a target.
Her hours at Le Gym were cut and her reputation tarnished.
“I had other workers come up to me and say that our associate director, Mr. Vladimir Pavlicik, had been telling them that I was a thief, that I was stealing from Concordia, stealing from the gym,” said Tandel, who has since filed a complaint against Concordia with Quebec’s labour relations board.
Her case will be heard by a panel of three judges in November.
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“She’s claiming for lost wages, we have asked for reinstatement under certain conditions of course,” said her lawyer Pierre Frégeau.
Tandel is also suing the Associate Director of Athletics for defamation.
Vladimir Pavlicik refused to speak with Global News, and Concordia University has also turned down multiple requests for an interview.
The Muslim Students Association is aware of the case and said that it condemns any form of racism.
They said it’s common practice for students and employees to pray in secluded areas like empty hallways and classrooms, when they can’t make it to the downtown campus’ designated prayer room in the Hall Building.
“He was basically doing his daily ritual in a very secluded area, where there wasn’t any volume at all, and from what I heard he essentially got harassed and told that he was basically disrespecting other people in that area,” said Joel Forbes who also used to work as a personal trainer at Le Gym.
Forbes witnessed several inappropriate incidents at Le Gym before he quit and he said he admires Rose Tandel for standing up for their Muslim co-worker.
“I applaud her because she stood her ground. She took the action which I personally believe should have been taken a long time ago,” said Forbes.
“It’s like standing up to a bully, and I’m very happy that she did that.”
Tandel is trying to move on with her life, but she just wishes the university had believed her story from the start, instead of supporting what she calls a smear campaign against her.
“I feel incredibly outraged and insulted and justice has not been served,” she said.
“HR’s job was to make sure nothing happens to its employees but they couldn’t care less what happened to me, they participated in the harassment.”
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