Official responds to discrimination claim against Polish chef in Taichung

The Polish chef and his Taiwanese wife have lived in Taiwan for four years. (Photo courtesy of Ms. Chiang)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — The story of a Polish chef who was hired by a Taichung restaurant and dismissed less than a month later has raised eyebrows among the members and friends of Taiwan’s foreign community.

His wife, surnamed Chiang, argues that her husband was a victim of workplace discrimination so the couple took the case to Taichung City’s Labor Affairs Bureau, only to receive a dismissive note in return.

In response to Chiang’s inquiries, The China Post contacted the Labor Affairs Bureau which put some light on its previous statement.

Chiang explained that her husband’s Chinese language skills are still a bit “rusty” even though he has been in Taiwan for four years, so she was helping him to look for a job when the story unfolded. 

He first received a job offer from a well-known restaurant in Taichung so he decided to move forward with his career plan to become a chef.

Chiang, who is pregnant with her second child, recalled that during the job interview, the head chef claimed that, with six chefs in the kitchen, working overtime was not necessary and the staff’s English skills were all very good so there was no need to worry about the language barrier.

However, Chiang’s husband was surprised to find on his first day on the job that only one chef in the entire kitchen could communicate in English, and on top of that, there were only three other chefs at the restaurant. 

Although he did his best to cooperate, he still made it clear to the head chef that he had a family, a two-year-old daughter and a wife who was expecting a baby, and that he hoped the company would be able to allow him to leave work on time.

One month later, however, the head chef informed the husband that they had no choice but to dismiss him because of his poor Chinese skills and his decision to leave work on time. The contract was terminated on June 30.

Chiang then filed a complaint with the Labor Affairs Bureau of the Taichung City Government to resolve the labor dispute. 

To her dismay, the Labor Affairs Bureau asked them to bring their own translators to the mediation, forcing her to spend the last stages of her pregnancy in court.

Before the second mediation meeting, Chiang was unexpectedly told that the Labor Affairs Bureau had arranged a translator, so her husband attended the meeting alone on July 15.

However, she claimed that the interpreter at the mediation meeting was “completely incompetent in English,” and that even the English proficiency skills of the mediator and the former employer were better.

Chiang then received a note from the Bureau which read: “Your wife is due to give birth … we advise you to withdraw the case for now.”

Photo of note provided by Ms. Chiang

The Labor Relations Division of the Taichung Labor Department explained that labor authorities don’t usually have a translator on hand. They contacted an English-language translator specialized in assisting foreign migrant workers to help the Polish chef but to no avail. 

Taking into consideration that the second mediation was scheduled near the end of July, which was close to Chiang’s due date, the local labor bureau suggested that the couple withdraws the case for now and re-submits it after their child is born.

If there is no consensus at the mediation meeting and the case cannot be established, the local labor bureau remarked that other legal channels can be pursued to file a complaint with other administrative authorities.

Labor Relations Division said it takes discrimination cases very seriously and such cases are reviewed by local experts and academics.