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.
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!
If you study historical and present geopolitics, you will find that language is the great unifier and divider. Nations which are multilingual have a much, much more difficult time staying unified and peaceful than nations which are monolingual. This has been true throughout history and into the present time.
Allowing America to become bi-lingual is asking for the same problems Canada is having.
I can guarantee you that at some point, the Spanish speaking minority will begin demanding that SPANISH be the primary langauge of the United States. Then the friction begins.
I think as the boss I have the right to make rules which prohibit such things on my property<<<<
There is one rule that can not be argued when it comes to restricting a Foreign language at the work place: SAFETY
In some Businesses..if an employee can not communicate properly..it is a Safety Issue.
Spanish has a "sound" that conveys anger a bit better than English. In fact, English is so full of "soothers" and "s" sounds that many non-native speakers thought it was totally devoid of emotional content ~ until they learned it!
Why are we so afraid of other cultures. Just because Hispanics are not from an Anglo-Saxon culture means we are being invaded.
Guess what Hispanics have been in this country since its founding. If I am not mistaken the first true colony was from Spain not England.
We speak English by happenstance. Our founding fathers found it wise not to make English the official language. This is because they realize that this country is a land of immigrants and its success is due to the blood, sweat, and tears of those immigrants (wherever they are from).
If your employees are making sexual comments or whatever about another employee who doesn't speak the language, that person won't even know they're being harassed, so it's a non-issue. The only people who would have a problem would be other Spanish-speakers, who would presumably tell you if they found what was being said to be offensive.
No one says that you shouldn't speak your language, keep your culture and celebrate your heritage. People who come to America should be required to learn the language. You came to America, we didn't go to Cuba. Speak the language.
Which native language?
* Chinook Jargon
* Gros Ventre
* Mikmac (Mi'kmaq)
* Montagnais Innu
* Unangam Tunuu
He came here to Washington, DC one summer for a visit. We decided to go to Ocean City, MD for the day. While there, he found this shirt:
He wore it all day. He was so proud. He wanted everyone to know he was an American.
That night, my wife and I took him out for supper at this place that had really great food. When we arrived at the restaurant, it was nearly empty. During our time, the place seemed to fill up to where there was almost no elbow room.
In a matter of a half hour, the place looked like something that would make the bar in Star Wars look like a Diner's Club Top Pick. Oh, this place was a Cuban restaurant. I look across the table to read the shirt. "Dan," I said, "Look at your shirt. If you want to walk out of here alive, follow me to the bathroom where you can turn it inside out." He turned ashen white. He followed and obeyed. The ironic thing is, if you can't speak English, you wouldn't be able to read the shirt.
> We are in America. Speak English, that is the language. Not Spanish.
Freedom of Speech means I can speak any language I damn well please. Got that, amigo? :-) At the same time a company should have the right to say to its employees, "Business shall conducted in English." However, inasmuch as Spanish has become the de facto language in many places, some companies stand to lose money if Spanish is forbidden.
You are incredibly uninformed and ignorant of history. Thereis so much wrong with your statement I don't know where to begin. Are you a troll or do you seriously wish for the Balkanization of the United States?
Funniest thing, there still is!
Absolutely. Why that simple fact is lost on so many is a source of amazement for me.
Funny you mention that about Super Cuts...the first and only time I went their, the guy accidently cut me with the scissors...Since I am border line hypchondriac, I was freaked out for about 5 years.
I wonder with which part of my history am I uninformed and ingnorant.
English is not the official language of the United States. If so, please find the law and post it. If it is, we will have to re-educate portions of the South. Since what they speak most of the time with each other cannot even be considered English.
Secondly, the first colony in North America was St. Augustine. A Spanish colony. It was formed years before the Mayflower ever landed on Plymouth Rock.
Thirdly, I am not a troll and know I am not looking for the Balkanization of the US. You use the Balkans as an area that was destroyed by their diversity. I present to you the United States that has flourished on its diversity.
So, would you be opposed to a business posting a message stating they sell only American made products?
No, of course not.
English IS and will be the official language of the United States, if we wish to remain united.
Legally, this is incorrect...there is no official language.
It used to be (my German Mom is one of them) when immigrants came to this country they were PROUD to speak and read ENGLISH.
BTW, my IMMIGRANT Mom who is about as far to the left as I'm to the righr agrees with me on this issue. She speaks German only in private conversations.
Of course I won't start a haircut chain...I don't want to go broke...
I do own several apartment buildings and did translate my lease into Spanish...it has made a HUGE difference in my OP. My OP is up about 5% since I did it...
As I stated in another post, I also had a translator make "cheat cards" for our maintanence guys...best operations move I ever made...The tenants are happy (word of mouth advertising, baby), the maintanence guys are more efficient, and my building are worth more, since I can show a higher OP.
Well, I am Russian...my grandparents came here in the 30s. They always spoke Russian around the house (and a couple of them never really got the hang of English)...they were proud of their heritage (and so am I). The same will happen with hispanics, just give it a generation.
This is America where PRIVATE business is supposed run however its owner wants it to.
Well that's fine, the customers should be able to get "Se Habla Espanol" hairdressers if they wish, and those hairdressers could even wear a pin that says they can speak Spanish, but business and talk on the shop floor should be in English unless it's conversation with a customer who has requested Spanish.
I agree one hundred percent...I also think its bad business, just my $.02.
Hahahahaha....Thats a good one.... but totally unrelated to the issue nonetheless.
In case you weren't aware of it...When the English landed on this continent (among other groups), America was not yet a unified country with a common language.
The various Indian tribes had different "languages" which were grouped in seperate "nations" each with more or less a common "tongue."
In any event, I think most reasonable folks would agree that if immigrant Spanish parents deny their children the opportunity to learn English as a prime language, their children will be at a tremendous social and economic didadvantage. That is simply a reality.
I don't have a problem with that, at all...
In my experience...the children of hispanic immigrants speak English far better than their parents. Trust me, as these families stay in the US, they will assimilate and learn the language...it happened with the Welsh, Germans, Russians, Ukes, Poles, Italians, French, Nigerians, Sudanese, Vietnamese, Chinese...
Try speaking an obscure language they will not understand back at THEM!
They get furious, fast.
In fact they get so mad they break into English in order to complain in a way you can understand.
Samoan works great, but Italian or Gaelic will do in a pinch.
No need to be fluent, just a few words will do the trick.
If an employee got mad at a customer for that, they should be fired on the spot.
Multiculturalism and the celebration of diversity is what divides a country, it doesn't bring it together. The United States has it's own unique culture that developed over centuries.
If someone considers themselves a "hyphenated-american" that's fine, but I don't consider those people to be Americans.
Past waves of immigrants came to these shores to become, and did become, Americans. Only in the last 20 or 30 years have people identified themselves by their culture or country of origin first and American second. And it is generally the "hyphenated-americans" that complain the loudest about how bad the United States is as a country.
A common language, and here it's English, provides a bond, a connection between people across the country that is shared. And a common language greatly helps in assimilation. Bilingualism is a huge roadblock to integration and participation in society.
When the English came here they did so AFTER the Spanish, French and Portuguese. Heck, they were even behind the Scots! (Note: Acadia was co-founded under Scottish and French authority).
Before there was any serious European settlement of the Americas, the Pope divided the place between areas of Spanish and Portuguese control. Accordingly, irrespective of what the Indians may have been thinking about things, America, as a part of Western Civilization, started out as a unified state!
Multiculturalism and the celebration of diversity is what divides a country, it doesn't bring it together. The United States has it's own unique culture that developed over centuries.
Completely untrue. Go to New York...that is the shining example of how people can live together under many different cultures...Little Italy, China Town,...it's all there and I love it...
-"Business[es] need to understand that we are free to speak our language."-
You're not free to swear or stand on a soapbox, either; free speech and language don't exist in a business setting. The boss wants you to speak English so he can understand what's going on in his own business. Now...if Italian was allowed, but not Spanish, I could see the point. As it is, this former employee set up by La Raza or whoever recruited her, hasn't got a leg to stand on. I just hope Supercuts will continue to stand up for themselves.
Yeah, and Dutch was spoken in New York before English. And Native American before Dutch. And Caveman, before Native American.
Countries are established. Cultures are established within those boundaries. Some kind of common language is established. Such is the rise of nations.
50 Million years ago the only language that was spoken in the US was Ameoba. I'm not speaking Ameoba.
I know what country is established on this land is 2005. And that's all that is relevant.
Well, you might want to check out some of this country's laws in 2005 with respect to "foreign languages" and "official Languages." Why don't you peruse some of HUD's regulations...it might surprise you.
Dial 3 for Russian, Dial 4 for German, Dial 5 for Arabic, Dial 6 for Chinese, Dial 7 for Japanese.... Takes long enough to hear Dial 2 for Spanish.
Give me a break, one language for all. We don't care how you speak at home, it's RUDE to speak other than English in public unless you are a tourist (then I enjoy hearing it). If you want to come to America, be American or stay where you're at. If I moved to Mexico, #1 on my list of priorities would be "learn Spanish".
Why is bilingualism and the ability to speak another language considered to be offensive anyway? This nation is made up of immigrants. We all come with our traditions and our cultures. If you do not believe that to be true,go to many areas in this country and you will find so called "true" Americans still eating spaghetti, kielbasa, gyros, and the like. I assure you that there is nothing American about them.
Just because someone chooses to hold on to their culture and their language does not make them less American. Our diversity is what makes us great.
What has made us great is being a MELTING POT.
As long as people want to become Americans first, which involves learning English for all public purposes, among other things, they can and should hold onto as much of their culture as they want to.
There is no way a country that does not share a common language can stay together and have a culture of it's own.
English-Only in a Diverse Workplace: One Language, Different Realities
By William P. Burns, Esq
Few contemporary issues in the American workplace are more sensitive and controversial than an employerâs requirement that employees only speak English in the workplace. If there is any doubt as to the emotional reaction that language as an indicator of cultural identity can evoke, one need only look to the north, and recall the various separatist movements which have occurred in recent years in Quebec. These separatist movements have, at times, threatened to tear the nation of Canada apart. Much of the emotional context of these movements has been language-based.
Closer to home, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida has recently addressed the issue of an employer requiring that employees speak only English. In Prado v. L. Luria & Son, Inc. (Luriaâs), decided in April of this year, the court held that "an English-only rule by an employer does not violate Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act] as applied to bilingual employees as long as there is a legitimate business reason for the rule."
In the Prado case, the plaintiff was employed initially by Luriaâs in Dade County as a cashier from 1987 to 1990. In that period of time she was offered, but declined, a promotion to head bookkeeper.
Early in 1990, Prado left Luriaâs for another job that paid a higher salary. However, after one year on this job, she sought re-employment at Luriaâs. There was no immediate opening at the company, but she was re-hired as an assistant bookkeeper when the first job became available in October 1992. She was later promoted to customer service manager. She worked at three different store locations in Dade County.
Prado Claimed that while employed at two of the separate business locations of Luriaâs in Dade County, she was subjected to harassment because of her accent and that at one location the store manager said there were "too many Spanish-speaking people" in the Coral Gables area, where the store was located.
In November of 1994, Prado quit Luriaâs, alleging that she was forced to leave (constructively discharged) because of Luriaâs strict enforcement of an English-only policy. In addition to filing a charge of discrimination, she took her complaints about the store to a Spanish language radio station in the area. In granting summary judgment for the store, the court noted that Luriaâs set forth two business reasons for enforcement of an English-only policy which the court found to be legitimate (1) to facilitate the practice of approaching customers first in English and (2) to ensure that management understands what is being said in order to evaluate employees in all work-related communications. The store also indicated that insistence on compliance with the policy was in response to customer complaints about employees speaking Spanish in the workplace.
In finding that the storeâs policy did not constitute unlawful national origin discrimination, the court rejected the EEOCâs policy that an English-only rule in the workplace will be presumed to violate Title VII and will be closely scrutinized. The court found that the plaintiff in this case sought to speak Spanish in the workplace as a matter of preference and that this preference was overcome by the legitimate business reasons asserted by the employer. The court concluded:
Generally, an employer may adopt or maintain any work-site policy governing employees which has as its principal purpose a furthering of the employerâs legitimate business interest so long as the policy does not infringe on individual rights, is not detrimental to the health or safety of the employees and, on balance, does not create an unfair advantage or disadvantage to any discrete group. More Particularly, an English-only workplace rule adopted with a principal purpose of providing for effective supervision and evaluation of employees furthers a legitimate business interest without violating protected rights.
The court then went on to observe what it termed "another practical justification" for a policy which prohibits the use of a foreign language in the workplace:
An insistence that employees speak English in the workplace serves the added business purpose of minimizing the sense of alienation and resulting hostility felt by employees and customers who donât speak or understand the foreign language.
The courtâs conclusion in the Prado case appears to provide latitude to an employer to establish and English-only policy in the workplace as long as the policy furthers the employerâs "legitimate business interest(s)." This term obviously is subject to interpretation. Also, if a valid "business purpose" of an English-only policy is to minimize "alienation" and "hostility" of employees who do not speak the foreign language, virtually every employer of any substantial size could conceivably argue that employees or customers have complained that when employees speak Spanish (or another foreign language), they feel excluded because they do not know whether the employees are talking about them in a negative manner and are further offended by their inability to understand what these employees are saying.
Certainly it is legitimate to believe that non-bilingual employees feel alienated and perhaps hostile to employees who in their presence speak another language which they do not understand. On the other hand, employees who are more comfortable with a language other than English may well feel they are being "singled out" for special discipline simply because of their national origin.
In view of the Prado decision, what should an employer who desires to implement an English-only workplace policy do? First of all, the employer, while recognizing that the workplace is not and cannot be a democracy, should be sensitive to the varying life experiences and perceptions that are brought into the workplace by employees with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Because of this, the employer should take the time to communicate effectively with all employees in its workplace to ensure that an English-only policy is fully explained to the employees. All employees may not agree with the business reasons asserted by the employer, but at least they will recognize that the employer believes there is a business reason for the policy, and it is not being imposed simply to discriminate against of offend any group of employees.
More specifically, an employer should first establish that there is in fact a substantial business necessity for the policy. Certainly customer complaints would seem to establish such a business reason. The employer should explain that this expressed dissatisfaction by its customers may drive away existing and future business and therefore jeopardize the jobs of all employees.
An employer should also emphasize to its employees that this policy applies to all languages other than English, and not just Spanish or any other particular language. The employer should also emphasize that it is not in any way trying to dictate a language of preference to any employee and that all employees are free to communicate with each other and with others outside of the workplace, including the lunchroom, during breaks, or obviously before or after work, in any language the employees prefer. The employer should further emphasize most of its customers and supervisors speak English and that is why that language has been selected.
It is also important for the employer to affirmatively state, at the time of the implementation of the English-only policy, that the employer is happy to have a diverse workplace which represents a cross-section of the community and believes that this diversity enhances the workplace environment by exposing it to cultural and ethnic diversity. However, despite the diversity, for effective communication, one language needs to be chosen and the language selected has been English because that is the language that most, if not all, employees, supervisors, and customers speak. It is also recommended that the employer emphasize that if any employee wants to speak with management separately regarding this matter, the employer would be happy to meet and discuss the policy further.
What is your point? If a business wants it employees to speak only Engish in front of English speakers, I have no problem with that...I also think that English should be learned by everyone, because it is a way to get ahead in this country.
But note: from a business perspective it is foolish, indeed stupid, to not understand where a large portion of your customers might come from...this country is rapidly becoming a place where a diverse marketplace, with a need for several languages, is developing. Smart business people will learn how to harnass this market. Dumb ones won't.
What would that prove?
That the goverment panders to PC interests? I know that already.