Teen, let go from Subway, says coworkers made fun of his special needs
Justin Diotte says he just wants to be a “normal kid.”
The 16-year-old Vaudreuil-Dorion resident lives with Tourette syndrome and high-functioning autism.
Last week, determined to get a job, Diotte went for an interview at his local Subway restaurant.
“My French isn’t the best, as I told the woman who interviewed me. Not even five minutes into it, I was ‘hired,'” he said.
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Diotte started his training the next day, but says it started off badly — and it only got worse from there.
“My trainer wasn’t really interacting with me the best and, like I said, my French was poor. So, at the beginning of my shift, I was confused on how to make a 12-inch and cut it,” he explained.
“One of the girls mumbled a foul word while my trainer snickered. I didn’t let it get to me.”
Then, he says, he was told he would be let go.
“While I was getting fired by an employee, my trainer was inside on her phone. I waited to see when I will receive my pay, then I left in tears,” he recalled.
“The whole time, those two girls were immature, rude and had no communication skills with me whatsoever. They passed comments behind my back thinking I wouldn’t hear.”
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The franchise says it had agreed to a three-hour trial period to determine whether Diotte’s French was good enough to work there.
“People of all abilities are welcome in my restaurant. … During that trial period, it became clear that his inability to speak the French language was a barrier to customer service,” said Suzanne Mihanna, Subway franchisee.
“This was the sole reason he was not kept on after the trial period. At the end of the three hours, the person who could best explain to him in English told him that he could not stay on because he did not understand or speak French. He said he was grateful for the opportunity and I felt as though we parted on good terms.”
Diotte’s mother says he called her distraught.
“I was the first person he called when he was let go,” his mother, Julie Desautels, told Global News.
“He was crying on the phone. I was at work and I cried for him.”
The teen has just graduated from Summit School, which educates over 600 special needs students in the Greater Montreal area.
“I have always taught him to never give up. He must have handed out at least 25 CVs this summer,” Desautel said.
“He is a good hard-working kid. He is very independent.”
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Diotte says he persevered and was recently hired to work in the kitchen at A&W.
“He had an interview with two managers. They treated him well,” his mother said.
“They called him a few hours later and told him they were going to hire him.”
Though Desautel explains children with disabilities can receive a pension from the Quebec government once they turn 18, he insists her son doesn’t want it.
“He just wants someone to give him a chance to prove himself,” she said.
“He wants full-time employment. [He’s willing to do] anything, as long as he is earning his own money.”
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