Albertsons grocery stores violated the rights of Latino employees with a policy forbidding workers to speak Spanish around non-Spanish speakers — even when conversing with one another during breaks or helping Spanish-speaking customers, according to a new lawsuit.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Albertsons Cos. on Thursday in federal court. The lawsuit accuses the Idaho-based chain of discriminating against Latino employees at San Diego-area stores, harassing them and subjecting them to a hostile workplace because of their race or country of origin.
“Employers have to be aware of the consequences of certain language policies,” Anna Park, an attorney for the commission’s district office covering San Diego County, said in a statement Thursday. “Targeting a particular language for censorship is often synonymous with targeting a particular national origin, which is both illegal and highly destructive to workplace morale and productivity.”
According to the lawsuit, the national grocery retailer is one of the country’s largest, employing some 280,000 employees across 35 states. The company’s stores serve about 2,300 communities and operate under 19 well-known banners, including Albertsons, Vons and Safeway.
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