English Only Restaurant: Customers Complain Of Spanish-Speaking Employees, English Only Rule Enforced

A restaurant in Palm Springs, California, is in the news for having an English-only rule in the dining facility.

The rule has been implemented and enforced on the restaurant’s employees because customers complained about them speaking to one another in Spanish. Diners were “uncomfortable” and wondered if the workers were talking about them at times.

KESQ reports that one restaurant employee doesn’t see it as just a sign, but a form of “discrimination.”

“I talk to my co-workers in Spanish, that makes me feel very upset not being able to talk to them in Spanish. I do feel discriminated. I know we are in America. We have to talk in English. At the same time, we speak Spanish, that’s my first language.”

A sign is posted in the kitchen where employees can read the warning about the English-only rule.

“Billy Reed’s employees please do not speak Spanish to other employees anywhere in the restaurant except when necessary on the cook line, that means not in the waitress stations or at the front desk. Thank You.”

The employee says he overheard the manager telling a co-worker that he would be fired if he continued speaking in Spanish, which made him afraid of losing his job if he also did it.

It was the manager who posted the sign.

“He doesn’t want (anyone) to speak Spanish anywhere in the restaurant except with the cooks in the line,” the employee said.

Reed confirmed to reporters that the sign is posted in the kitchen, but said that he wouldn’t fire them if they were caught speaking anything other than English anywhere else in the restaurant.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the English-only rule violates their anti-discrimination laws unless they are absolutely necessary to operate the business and sale “safely or efficiently.”

Businesses requiring employees to speak only English in a work environment is discrimination unless it’s reasonably necessary to run the business. If employees are subjected to an English-only rule at all times in the workplace that includes breaks and lunchtime, it’s even less acceptable then and is “rarely justified.”

Overall, the English-only restaurant — or other employers wanting their workers adhering to an English-only policy — must have good enough reason to prove it has to do with operating the business safely and efficiently. This would have to do with emergency situations in which customers and co-workers only speak English, communicating with those who only speak English, and work assignments in which everyone who only speaks English collaborate as a team.

[Image via KMIR News]