Two ex-employees of the Algerian consulate in Montreal sue for “harassment”
Marisa Amaya, 65, left, and Elida Rivera Lopez, 70.
Two former housekeeping workers from the Algerian Consulate in Montreal are suing the Algerian government and its Ministry of Foreign Affairs for approximately $450,000 in damages and unpaid wages. Marisa Amaya, 65, and Elida Rivera Lopez, 70, say their experience working at the consulate has left them “psychologically and emotionally broken”.
Ms Amaya said in an interview Friday alongside Ms Rivera Lopez that her mental health had deteriorated so badly that at one point she thought about jumping in front of a subway. The two women accuse the Consul General of Algeria Noureddine Meriem and his wife of abuse of power and of humiliating and harassing them at work.
Ms Amaya was hired in 2008 and Ms. Rivera Lopez in 2014. The two women indicated that they were responsible for maintaining not only the consulate in downtown Montreal, but also Mr. Meriem's personal residence, located in another part of town.
Mrs. Rivera Lopez claimed that she cried constantly and did not want to eat. I would walk into their house and greet him, and he would look away and ignore me, she said.
The women claim in separate lawsuits, both filed in August, that a toxic work environment prevailed at the consulate, prompting them to take sick leave in 2021. The lawsuits allege that the women were victims of psychological abuse and vexatious behavior within the consulate of ;Algeria.
According to the documents, the work stoppage and the deterioration of the plaintiffs' mental health were directly caused by the consul's toxic working conditions, humiliation and abuse of power. However, the lawsuits do not include specific details of the harassment and humiliation that Ms. Amaya and Rivera Lopez allege they suffered while working at the consulate.
In a written statement, the consul says he categorically denies the two women's allegations, calling them unsubstantiated and defamatory. The allegations have not been proven in court.
Both women say the lawyer they hired to file the lawsuit dumped them as clients earlier this week after they went public with their allegations in the media. They say they are looking for a new lawyer and they are maintaining their lawsuits.