Skip to comments.Supercuts sued for ban on Spanish
Posted on 08/12/2005 6:25:58 AM PDT by jaydubya2
Some Chicago businesses post "Se Habla Espanol" signs to boast about their Spanish-speaking employees.
But two hair stylists said in a federal lawsuit Thursday that their former bosses at Supercuts posted a different sign:
"Speaking a language other than English is not only disrespectful, it's also prohibited."
Stylists say the notice was put up in 2003, directed at employees as Supercuts managers allegedly barred them from speaking Spanish anywhere at work -- including in the break room or other places outside the earshot of customers.
Supercuts says there is no such ban.
"We absolutely, vehemently deny the allegations and believe the evidence will show otherwise," attorney Davi Hirsch said Thursday.
EEOC on the case
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which joined in the lawsuit, argues that such a ban is a violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that prohibits employment discrimination based on national origin.
The EEOC, along with private attorney Kamran Memon, brought the lawsuit against Primps LLC and Management Advantage Group LLC, which own more than 20 Supercuts salons in the city and suburbs.
One of the stylists, Rosa Gonzalez, 54, of Chicago, said her bosses shot her dirty looks or would reprimand her if she spoke Spanish to co-workers while on break, or at other times, even when customers weren't around.
The ban was lifted, she said, only if a customer didn't know any English.
"I think it's not fair," said Gonzalez, who came to the United States 27 years ago from Guanajuato, Mexico. "Business[es] need to understand that we are free to speak our language."
No such rule, company says
Memon said Gonzalez and another stylist who filed the lawsuit, Blanca Sauceda, were reprimanded sometimes several times a week for speaking in Spanish on breaks. The two worked for the company at various locations for more than 10 years.
They ultimately quit at their Michigan Avenue location after they felt uncomfortable at work.
Memon said the two wouldn't challenge a policy that limits Spanish being spoken in front of English-speaking customers. But Memon said Gonzalez and Sauceda were told it was "ignorant" and "disrespectful" to speak Spanish at work.
EEOC trial attorney Ann Henry said the suit was brought after managers allegedly enforced a blanket ban at "more than one location."
But Hirsch, who represents the 20 Supercuts owned by Management Advantage Group, said no such ban exists and that the suggestion of one is ludicrous because Supercuts' work force is heavily Hispanic.
Hirsch said there is a written policy limiting language other than English.
"The goal of the policy was to speak essentially whatever language you chose in the lunchroom or on breaks, when you're not servicing customers," Hirsch said.
Hirsch questioned why the employees didn't raise concerns until after they left the company.
Kamran Memon is a civil rights attorney practicing in Chicago. He is also a member of the National Employment Lawyers Association.
He handles cases involving discrimination by employers against employees, and discrimination by businesses against customers. He has also handled cases involving discrimination by police against individuals, and discrimination by schools against students. He has represented Muslim victims of discrimination before and after 9/11. He is a founder of the Muslim Bar Association of Chicago, and a member of the National Association of Muslim Lawyers. He graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 1997.
That would a "private" not public conversation. What I mean, for instance, I was at the the hot tub at an apartment complex the other day, there were these two young girls (I think are from Korea, I think are here on student visa, i.e. visitors). They both speak English as evidenced by the one girl speaking to us and we speaking to her, the other girl said about one sentence in perfect English and the rest of the time, only spoke to the other girl in Korean while the rest of us included the polite, young lady in our conversations. We did not however, include the other young lady. She was being rude by not speaking English (no telling what she was saying about us). She deliberately spoke her foreign language in full knowledge that no one else could understand her. That is what I mean by "rude".
U of C is one hell of a law school.
The Balkans have diversity; where the greatness there?
Thankfully, we are not the Balkans. The rights granted to everyone under our Constitution will (hopefully) keep this place from becoming like it.
Read it again.
The marxist activism at work in our "hallowed halls" is evident. Has been for many years.
Witness the USSC decision in Kelo..."eminent domain" for those of you from who knows where.
This country, this Republic, moves further and further from the Constitution day by day, to a total government control of the simplest decisions which should be our own to make.
Sit back and think about it.
Yes..True!....But you miss a salient point of this thred...Which is...That Immigrant Spanish children are placed at a tremendous and largely permanent disadvantage by having their parents decide for them that it is not important to learn English as their prime language......as every other major immigrant group has done before them.
Worng, wrong, wrong...I have never stated Hispanic kids shouldn't learn English...they absolutely should, and most Hispanics I know, agree with this.
Most **First Wave*** Immigrants have a hard time assimilating...most of their kids, assimilate quickly...that is true for today's immigrants and for yesterday's.
"Hirsch said there is a written policy limiting language other than English.
"The goal of the policy was to speak essentially whatever language you chose in the lunchroom or on breaks, when you're not servicing customers," Hirsch said."
This was buried at the end of the article.
But, it appears these women are taking it too far and saying there was a blanket ban.
There is not. If you are on break talking to another employee, you can speak Spanish.
But, when you are with customers, you need to speak English.
Seems reasonable to me.
Me too. Seems like these two women are trying to hit the lawsuit lottery.
It is well past the time that an official language -- English -- be declared for the United States.
I am bilingual, but I'm here to tell you that when I do want or need to speak Spanish, it's HARD. Takes a little extra brain power because my mind is wired in English, which is my first language.
When I've gone to Mexico on vacation, I resort to English when I'm just too lazy to speak Spanish or had a few too many margaritas.
So, based on my own experience, I think those who speak Spanish here and refuse to speak/learn English and use it as their first language are like me in Mexico at times--lazy.
You're right. We are different and there is nothing wrong with that.
What is wrong is the intent of how you use your language. No mater what language is.
It's all about manners and consideration of our local customs. There is too much rudeness and unprofessionalism, when dealing with the public as it is.
Words when used in the right context can make or break a business.
The "I'm entitled to do whatever I want, despite courtesy to others", attitude has run far too rampant in this country.
Btw, you are new to FR. Welcome. And get over it.
The problem is rather universal among humans. Most of us learn one language well. Some can learn to speak two or more readily, but they are a distinct minority. Some of us are gifted in being able to dicipher what folks with poor English language skills are saying.
The Hispanic people moving up from Latin America face a double-barreled problem. First off, they didn't receive a good education in Spanish. Secondly, their English vocabulary will, in just a few years experience, become far larger than their Spanish vocabulary. In numerous communities this is driving their creation of a creole language we call Spanglish.
That's why I love Reggaeton music from Puerto Rico ~ good beat, quite danceable, and yet, I can understand what they're saying because they use my words!
I'll certainly agree with you that the girl in that situation was being rude.
Maybe we're on the same page. I thought that you meant it was rude for people in public to communicate with one antother in foreign languages (even if everyone involved in the conversation spoke the foreigh language).
I know what you mean...when I travel I always speak English unless I have to speak Spanish (or Russian). That's why I think that First Wave Immigrants assimilate much less quickly than their children do---the children have brains hard-wired (I like your term) in English and Spanish, while the parents grew up speaking only Spanish.
I like that music, too. I wonder, do you feel this whole mess about being "overrun" by a population that "won't" assimilate is a little rediculous? I do. Maybe this is because I remember my grandparents and how they longed for the old country...I remember hearing how much better things were over there...then when I finally went (and I did love it) within two weeks I was ready to come home (and eat a freaking cheeseburger).
Now, that was funny...
Thank you for the welcome to the board. I have lurked for a while and finally signed up. Didn't mean to cause such a ruckus on my first post.
I agree with you that using my ability to speak Spanish in front of others for the intent of talking about them is rude and should not be tolerated.
More often than not, if I know I am in mixed company, I will speak English in order not to offend the non-Spanish speaker. Often times I do that at the expense of a person who only speaks Spanish. Their loss if they do not speak English.
My point is that we should look at our diversity as a blessing not something to be frowned upon. I agree with others here that after a few generations pass, most Latins will speak exclusively English, though they may retain some of their Latin customs.
I just hope that those who have an alteriror motive (e.g. biggotry) don't get the upper hand just because the wave of immigrants coming in today happen to speak Spanish. Phrases such as "close the borders" and "send them back" should never be in any Americans' vocabulary.
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