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.
S.O.D. actually stands for Stormtroopers Of Death. They did have a song, though, called Speak English or Die.
Thank you, I knew that since I was 12.
"The inability to communicate with one another is what divides us."
No. These people REFUSE to communicate in English. They are not unable, they REFUSE!!!!!!!!
Welcome to Free Republic. I hope you enjoyed your stay.
English is America's language. All my ancestors who came over had to learn it. Every other European backgrounded person I've met, their ancestors had to learn it.
There was no movement to accept Italian, German, Polish, Norwegian, or Finnish. They had to learn English, there's no reason for current immigrants to not learn English
So, would you be opposed to a business posting a message stating they sell only American made products?
English IS and will be the official language of the United States, if we wish to remain united. There'd be a lot more effort on the part of Hispanics to assimilate into American culture if there were much less accomodation.
Sadly, no. She's no hairy chested Siberian tree trunk, but she's not all that hot either.
"That does not take away from the fact that we are also Cuban."
Wrong. You are either American or you are Cuban, not both. You may be American, and have Cuban heritage, but unless you have dual citizenship, you are one or the other.
Unless we are committed to make these people assimilate or GO THE F%^&& BACK WHERE THEY CAME FROM, we will be very divided and balkanized.
I disagree with you. When I lived in Germany I had to learn to speak and read German. If people wish to speak in their cultural language (my parents spoke German, Russian and English) at home or in private conversations amongst themselves - thats fine. But our forefathers spoke ENGLISH. Our Constitution was written in ENGLISH. Signs in Spanish are repulsive to me. Wake up - we've been invaded!
Sorry I can't accept it. You can say you're not offended, but I am very offended by their use of language as a discriminatory tactic to avoid being in compliance with many basic work regulations, such as the many types of harassment banned in the workplace. Why can't I get over it? Cause as a manager I am supposed to enforce those nondiscrimination policies. English is the common language of the business world and again anything else come across appearing as discrimination. I've seen examples go both ways and if I have to crack down on English speakers taking advantage of someone who doesn't understand the innuendo...so should I crack down on foreign speakers gathered in the corner of a break-room speaking in foreign tongue and leering at the secretary who comes in to get a cup of coffee. They're contributing to a hostile work place and that is just as much against the law for them as it is for my English speaking employees. Get it.
Tuus stultum est? (Or would you perhaps prefer that I make comments about you in a common language?)
No one cares what language people speak at home (see my tagline...). However, to speak around (and about) people in a language they do not understand (especially when you are in their country... and maybe not even legally) is very rude. Likewise, it is a symptom of a refusal of many of the people involved to assimilate into the culture of the country they have immigrated to.
When you move to another country, you should have the basic respect to adopt the culture of your new home. It is not an accident that Mexico is a violent Third-world hellhole with little opportunity for these people, and the U.S. is a productive land of opportunity. It is a product of the different cultures. So stop trying to change our culture to be like the dysfunctional one you left, folks!
Foods are not culture (the idea that eating spaghetti is a sign of "cultural" resistance is idiotic). Until the late twentieth century, immigrants to America all assimilated into the general American culture (sometimes slowly and painfully... but always in the end), to the benefit of both. Only in the past ~45 years have immigrants had active encouragement (from liberals and activists) not to assimilate, and it shows in the increasing balkanization in America. If people actually cared about immigrants, they would fight this, as minority cultures will almost always be the ones to suffer in societies as a whole (what demographics are most vulnerable to crime and poverty now? Coincidence?)...
They also spew their hatred of Americans. We have a Mexican restaurant in our area run by Mexican illegals and when an American Spanish speaking customer goes in there, he receives a shock to his system.
Few people realize how much the illegals hate us. As more come in, thanks to Bush, Americans are going to become targets of their hatred. Even the scum who loves illegal immigration are going to get the wake up call too late.
Preventing your employees from speaking a different language than English on the job is not discrimination nor a violation of anyone's rights, IMO.
If this employer had a policy where people weren't allowed to speak Spanish on breaks or when no customers were around, they're over-controlling jerks. However, such a rule doesn't violate anyone's rights.
Well, I guess I am an idiot then...I think that is just about the dumbest business policy I have ever heard of...the idea is to attract as many customers as possible...not alienate them by banning their language...
You're not serious, are you?
Funny related story. A friend was having her nails done at one of those Asian places where nobody speaks English. The TV was set to Days of Our Lives, and all the nail techs were quietly watching and occasionally murmuring to each other in Chinese. An older Chinese man came out from the back room and switched the channel. My friend's nail tech, who was the oldest woman there, immediately turned to the older Chinese man and began loudly berating him in Chinese while gesturing at the TV, and the man (obviously her husband) promptly switched the channel back. My friend smiled at the nail tech and said, "You like Days of Our Lives too, huh?" The nail tech's eyebrows shot up and she then asked my friend, "You speak Chinese?"
I must respectfully disagree with you there. As a manager, I am responsible if any of my staff are committing sexual (or other) harassment of another employee. How can I possibly control this if they insist on speaking a language I do not understand?
"Speaking a language other than English is not only disrespectful, it's also prohibited."
This sign ought to be posted in every business in this country.
AMEN!!!! I speak Spanish and I can not count how many times I have seen trashy Spanish speaking employees speak Spanish just so they can talk trash about people in front of them!
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