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Language dispute at Tim Hortons

A Montreal man says he was attacked on the premises of a Tim Hortons after an employee refused to serve him in English – a claim the store owner disputes.

Ron Yaz said he’s boycotting Tim Hortons after an incident at a Laval branch of the popular coffee chain just over a week ago.

He said the confrontation happened after he placed his order in English.

"I asked the girl for 12 donuts and six muffins and she looked at me like I was totally crazy," he told CTV Montreal. He said the employee refused to serve him in English.

"She went to the back of the store, got someone who came up, said two words in English, walked away and said 'maudit Anglais,' which I didn’t appreciate very much," he said.

The French words loosely translate to mean “cursed English.”

Yaz said he then got into an argument with some French-speaking customers who were in the store. The argument soon escalated into a physical confrontation, he said.

"He pulled something out of his pocket, picked it up – it was a nightstick," Yaz said. "He went to hit me over the head with it, (but) I put my arm up, blocked it. He hit me in the arm… took off."

The police and an ambulance were called to the scene and Yaz filed a report.

But the owner of the Tim Hortons store said the incident happened very differently.

The owner, who wouldn't provide his last name, said his employees serve customers who speak English.

"It's not true that we don't serve the Anglophones," Peter said, adding that it was Yaz who verbally attacked the server.

"He knows that the girl she doesn't speak very well in English. Instead of trying to understand the person, he was insulting and harassing the employee and the employee started to cry," he said.

Peter added that he went through the security camera footage and there was no attack on Yaz inside the store.

"What happened outside, we don’t know about it," he said.

Tim Hortons public relations manager Michelle Robichaud said that the company is looking into the incident.

"We are currently investigating this very serious matter. In Quebec we endeavour to serve our guests in their preferred official language whenever possible, as it is important to treat each of our guests with dignity and respect," she said in a statement.

As for Yaz, he decided not to file an official complaint because of what police said to him at the time of the altercation.

"They said to me, 'Well, why didn't you talk to the girl in French? It would have stopped all of this nonsense,'" he said. "And I said because I'm English. I'm not French. I just want to be served in my language.'"

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