A CEGEP professor who avoided sacking after making racist remarks against a First Nations student was eventually fired for lying to avoid attending a training session on Aboriginal realities.
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The Cégep de Chicoutimi was right to sack philosophy professor Éric Tremblay, ruled referee Marie-Ève Crevier.
The arbitral tribunal last week dismissed his union’s appeal to overturn his dismissal.
In 2019, Mr Tremblay was fired for the first time for making discriminatory remarks against a First Nations student.
In a philosophy class, he told an Aboriginal student “that he could not be Aboriginal because of his blue eyes and blond hair, that his grandmother had been raped and that Aboriginal claims had no place”.
However, his sentence was changed to a 15-month suspended sentence in February 2021 after his union convinced the arbitral tribunal that the dismissal was too harsh.
Mr Tremblay, who had been employed at Cégep since 1996, was therefore able to start teaching again. But before he returned to his position, he had to complete a training course on indigenous realities on May 5, 2021.
This training was requested by the Minister responsible for combating racism, Benoit Charrette, following the publication of an article on the subject by the Quebec newspaper.
However, Mr. Tremblay never showed up for the personalized online course intended for him.
Asked several times by CEGEP about the reasons for his absence, the former teacher mentioned in particular that he was not able to connect to the Zoom meeting because he had problems with the internet connection and the software was being updated.
He also couldn’t get up on time due to side effects from his COVID-19 vaccine.
“However, not only did the plaintiff fail to tell the truth to justify his absence from the training, but he constructed a story which I find blatantly unbelievable,” specified Mr. Crevier.
According to a computer analysis presented by the management of CEGEP, Tremblay’s computer was only opened an hour and a half after the planned start of the training session.
He only contacted his employer at this point, despite repeated calls from them over the past few minutes.
“Anyone who had difficulty attending a training course dedicated to them personally would have immediately contacted their employer to let them know,” Mr Crevier said.
After meeting Éric Tremblay on May 7, 2021, the administration of the Cégep de Chicoutimi suspended him for pay to conduct an investigation. He was eventually released on June 22, 2021.
“We are satisfied with the court’s decision. We thought it was the right thing to do and it was confirmed,” he said protocol Nathalie Richard, Head of Human Resources at the educational institution.