Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Supercuts sued for ban on Spanish
Chicago Sun-Times ^ | August 12, 2005 | NATASHA KORECKI

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.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: Illinois
KEYWORDS: eeoc; englishplease; lawsuit; scamlaw
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-20 ... 61-8081-100101-120 ... 281-285 next last
To: Tulane
"But posting a sign where customers could read that Spanish is banned is downright bad my humble opinion."

This is America where PRIVATE business is supposed run however its owner wants it to.

81 posted on 08/12/2005 8:09:48 AM PDT by subterfuge (Obama, mo Osama-La bamba, uh, bama...banana rama...URP!---Ted Kennedy)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Tulane
it should be all about what the customer wants

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.

82 posted on 08/12/2005 8:10:58 AM PDT by The Red Zone (Florida, the sun-shame state, and Illinois the chicken injun.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: subterfuge

I agree one hundred percent...I also think its bad business, just my $.02.

83 posted on 08/12/2005 8:11:23 AM PDT by Tulane
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 81 | View Replies]

To: muawiyah
The English were the first to come here and refuse to learn the "native" language.

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.

84 posted on 08/12/2005 8:11:56 AM PDT by squirt-gun
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: The Red Zone

I don't have a problem with that, at all...

85 posted on 08/12/2005 8:12:13 AM PDT by Tulane
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 82 | View Replies]

To: squirt-gun

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 happened with the Welsh, Germans, Russians, Ukes, Poles, Italians, French, Nigerians, Sudanese, Vietnamese, Chinese...

86 posted on 08/12/2005 8:14:49 AM PDT by Tulane
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 84 | View Replies]

To: calex59

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.

87 posted on 08/12/2005 8:16:09 AM PDT by Richard-SIA ("The natural progress of things is for government to gain ground and for liberty to yield" JEFFERSON)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Richard-SIA

If an employee got mad at a customer for that, they should be fired on the spot.

88 posted on 08/12/2005 8:17:42 AM PDT by Tulane
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 87 | View Replies]

To: magnieye

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.

89 posted on 08/12/2005 8:17:52 AM PDT by Hornet19 (Libs...Huh..Yeah!...What are they good for..Absolutely Nothing. (apologies to Edwin Starr))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 74 | View Replies]

To: squirt-gun
Tossing your leg as well over into my leg bin.

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!

90 posted on 08/12/2005 8:19:03 AM PDT by muawiyah (/ hey coach do I gotta' put in that "/sarcasm " thing again?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 84 | View Replies]

To: Hornet19

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,'s all there and I love it...

91 posted on 08/12/2005 8:19:33 AM PDT by Tulane
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 89 | View Replies]

To: jaydubya2

-"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.

92 posted on 08/12/2005 8:20:48 AM PDT by AmericanChef
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

And for the record Spanish has been spoken in Florida hundreds of years longer than English has.

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.

93 posted on 08/12/2005 8:21:05 AM PDT by Stu Cohen (Press '1' for English)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 60 | View Replies]

To: Stu Cohen

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 might surprise you.

94 posted on 08/12/2005 8:23:00 AM PDT by Tulane
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 93 | View Replies]

To: Tulane
Well, I am 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.

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".

95 posted on 08/12/2005 8:23:26 AM PDT by ozarkgirl
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 80 | View Replies]

To: magnieye
"To believe that English is the only language spoken in the United States is shortsighted and misinformed."

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.


96 posted on 08/12/2005 8:23:37 AM PDT by Servant of the 9 (Those Poor Poor Rubber Cows)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: squirt-gun
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.


97 posted on 08/12/2005 8:25:54 AM PDT by ozarkgirl
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 84 | View Replies]

To: Tulane

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.

98 posted on 08/12/2005 8:26:25 AM PDT by EBH (Never give-up, Never give-in, and Never Forget)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 94 | View Replies]

To: ozarkgirl

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.

99 posted on 08/12/2005 8:27:13 AM PDT by Tulane
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 95 | View Replies]

To: Tulane
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 might surprise you.

What would that prove?

That the goverment panders to PC interests? I know that already.

100 posted on 08/12/2005 8:27:27 AM PDT by Stu Cohen (Press '1' for English)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 94 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-20 ... 61-8081-100101-120 ... 281-285 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson