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Woman Say Richmond McDonalds Discriminated Against Her By Refusing Her Service Because of Language

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A B.C. woman is claiming she was refused service at a Richmond McDonald's because staff said they couldn't understand her English.

Hai Xia Sun ordered a hot chocolate at the McDonald's on Number 3 Road in Richmond last week, but said staff gave her a coffee by mistake.

mi-bc-130821-mcdonalds-hai-sia-sun.jpgHai Xia Sun ordered hot chocolate at a Richmond McDonald's last week, but got coffee instead. (CBC)

She said she asked that her order be fixed, but alleges the manager refused and told her to get out of the store instead.

"She said, 'You don't know English,' and then she returned my order. She said, 'We are very busy, don't stay here,'" Hai Xia Sun told CBC News.

Sun called the incident discrimination.

"This is my second language right. And this is discrimination. Yes maybe I speak not very good English but she can't not service to us."

Restaurant blames 'language barrier'

But a McDonald's spokesperson says it was an isolated incident caused by a "language barrier," not discrimination or poor service.

"We regret that this customer was offended during her recent restaurant visit. We have since been in communication with her son who has expressed appreciation for our efforts to resolve the situation," said a later statement issued by communications director Jeanette Jones.

"What is alleged to have taken place is not consistent with the franchisee’s commitment to quality customer service and to reflecting the cultural mosaic of the restaurant’s local community," the statement read.

The Vancouver suburb of Richmond is popular with Chinese immigrants. According to Statistics Canada, 41 per cent of the population lists a Chinese dialect as their first language.

Queenie Choo, CEO of SUCCESS, a Vancouver immigrant group, says incidents of discrimination are uncommon in local businesses.

"Well I think it's a very unfortunate situation. The way I look at it, it's a situation where there's a communication issue. It takes two to tango," Choo said.

Nevertheless, Sun's son David Zhao wants McDonald's to take action by hiring Mandarin speakers at local restaurants.

"In Richmond, how come they don't hire a person who can communicate in Mandarin. All right? That's not a big deal," said Zhao

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Nevertheless, Sun's son David Zhao wants McDonald's to take action by hiring Mandarin speakers at local restaurants.

"In Richmond, how come they don't hire a person who can communicate in Mandarin. All right? That's not a big deal," said Zhao

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If I were to go to lets say, Italy, I would expect myself to learn some Italian, I would not expect others to know English. People need to take initiative and learn English.

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It's kind of ironic.. Every fast food place in my area has at least 4 Chinese people working there, and I can rarely understand them..

So, you'd think there would have been at least 1 person who could have understood her

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Companies shouldn't have to. However, it makes good business sense to hire someone who can communicate with a large segment of your potential customers.

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McDonalds is run by Asians who can't speak English... I don't understand. I was thinking that this was going to be a random english speaking person getting discriminated against for not speaking one of the other 3 major languages used in Vancouver on a regular basis.

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The woman should have gone to the Human Rights Tribunal instead of the media. She could have gotten $10,000 like those East Asian people who was refused service by the Langley Shark Club.

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WOW. The issue isn't the language, its about one idiot manager who doesn't understand proper business etiquette. You don't tell someone to leave the store if they aren't doing anything wrong. How hard is it to understand hot chocolate? Simply point to the machine. I've had to deal with customers where I didn't understand a word they said, but I didn't tell them to leave. I simply listened harder and tried to see what they wanted. Regardless of how busy they are, they have a right to eat food, and languages are hard to learn.

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Fully went into this thread expecting it to be a WHITE women who only spoke English and no one at the store could.

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I really hate people that think that companies in a country that is primarily english-speaking should hire a Mandarin speaking (Or insert other language here) worker to please them.

If I were to go to lets say, Italy, I would expect myself to learn some Italian, I would not expect others to know English. People need to take initiative and learn English.

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next time I go to tim hortons I better not get coffee when I order tea or im going to the media and then get 10,000 dollars lol

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With all due respect and at the risk of sounding racist, isn't Richmond, where it is nearly 40% Chinese speaking anyways (as a second language) capable of having someone mandarin speaking by default working in a mcdonalds?

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So, you move to a province where 80% of people speak primarily English without being fluent in English and then you're angry when you have trouble communicating?

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I really hate people that think that companies in a country that is primarily english-speaking should hire a Mandarin speaking (Or insert other language here) worker to please them.

If I were to go to lets say, Italy, I would expect myself to learn some Italian, I would not expect others to know English. People need to take initiative and learn English.

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