Quebec waitress says she was fired for stopping drunk driver

A Quebec waitress believes her intervention to prevent a drunken customer from getting behind the wheel made her lose her job at a Montreal-area restaurant.

Valérie Couturier claims she was let go after calling police on intoxicated customer

Valérie Couturier said she tried to talk the customer into taking a cab before calling the police to intervene. (Radio-Canada)

A Quebec waitress believes her intervention to prevent a drunken customer from getting behind the wheel made her lose her job at a Montreal-area restaurant.

Valérie Couturier said one week after she called the police on a customer who was stumbling and refusing to take a cab, her bosses told her she was being let go because of potential lawsuits.

The incident happened on Aug. 16, when Couturier, 23, was finished her shift at the Le Chêne Blanc in Boucherville, on Montreal’s South Shore.

She decided to stay at the restaurant to celebrate the birthday of a friend.

At around 1:30 A.M., she noticed that an inebriated client was trying to get into his car.

"Me and my friend tried to stop him and ask him if he wanted to call a cab," she said, adding the man didn’t want to leave his car there.

"The guy just took his keys and left."

Police intervention

Couturier pulled out her phone and called the police. Another customer and Couturier’s friend took the man’s keys and officers showed up a few minutes later.

The police drove the man home. No charges were laid.

However, one week later, Couturier came into the restaurant and was told she was being let go.

"They told me what I did was inacceptable," she said. "They said they didn’t have a choice other than to fire me."

According to Couturier, who had worked at the restaurant for less than nine months, her bosses said that her actions could ruin their reputation and open them up to litigation.

The owners of the restaurant told Radio-Canada that Couturier’s dismissal was linked to the incident, but there were other issues as well.

"It’s not the fact that she [tried to stop] someone who was intoxicated," said Dave Baillargeon, co-owner of the business.

"But, unfortunately, I can’t tell you for the moment why because of the risk of litigation."

Couturier said she was given one week of pay when she was let go. She said she doesn’t want her job back, because she feels the environment would be too tense, but she would like to ensure that people aren’t afraid to intervene. 

"It’s not really great what happened to me," she said. "I have to find another job, and I was just starting school after this, so this is not great.

"What I want to do is really to change things …. Maybe if some changes are made … people would not be afraid to call police."