Keremeos Best Juice has a busy work environment, as fruit must be processed before it spoils, even in cold storage.
Although all companies must comply with human rights laws, there are no explicit diversity or inclusion policies in place at this worksite. Furthermore, there has been no training provided on workplace harassment other than the annual mandated WorkSafeBC course. Most workers have been there for years and are proud of their competence and high productivity. Keremeos Best Juice has an environment where the staff work hard and comprise a tight knit team who like to joke around. They aren’t always careful in considering what they say since staff call this “teasing” and everyone laughs along.
The main character, Dani, is able to speak functional English. He is a fruit sorter and is making mistakes as he learns the job. Other employees have spoken to him sharply at times, reminding him to be careful as it affects everyone down the line. Several employees asked him in a very loud voice, “Do you understand? English? Do you speak English?” Other employees have also asked Dani to do extra jobs, such as carrying crates to other locations and sweeping up, tasks that are supposed to be everyone’s responsibility. Even when he asks for assistance for two-person jobs, he has noticed how his fellow employees only begrudgingly help him. As Dani is a recent refugee who is unsure of his status, he does what he is told and does not stir up trouble by talking back.
One day, William, the engineer, has to stop production for 45 minutes to fix something on a conveyor belt. Some workers are sent to do inventory checks, while others are sent on break early. Dani, however, doesn’t understand where to go, and so he stands by the conveyor belt, apparently anxious. The senior employees, who are helping William with tools and equipment, stare at Dani and shake their heads. One worker laughs and mutters to William, “That new Venezuelan or Mexican guy or whatever probably broke it. Ha, ha. He always slows us down. Guess he doesn’t like to work!” Dani doesn’t say anything and looks down at his feet. William politely asks the employee to help Dani learn his job. Later, William goes into Feng’s office to discuss the situation.
Dialogue between William, the engineer, and Feng, the assistant manager:
Feng: Hello. Hey, the lab reports look good this week.
William: Good, good. But I wanted to talk to you about the new guy, Dani. I think the others are treating him bad and not helping him.
Feng: Well, he’s still learning. Maybe he isn’t popular. Hey, why isn’t he talking to me about it if it’s a problem?
William: Who wants to be a snitch? Anyway, he probably doesn’t know anyone and wouldn’t be able to give you names, dates or info like that.
Feng: I’m running a great team here. It’s probably just the new guy learning our way of doing things. He’ll settle in.
William: Maybe. But I think there’s some kind of pigeonholing of this guy, like he’s a so-called lazy Mexican and has to be bossed around and given the extra grunt work. They think he’s Mexican. He’s from Central America, right?
Feng: Yeah, maybe. Okay, let’s keep an eye on the floor line and see if it really is a problem.