SAN DIEGO — An Albertsons in San Diego is accused of subjecting Hispanic employees to harassment and a hostile work environment by implementing a no-Spanish policy, in a new lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Thursday.
According to the lawsuit, beginning in late 2012, an Albertsons store on Lake Murray Boulevard prohibited employees from speaking Spanish around non- Spanish speakers, including when they spoke to Spanish-speaking customers and during breaks.
The EEOC alleges that Albertsons managers publicly reprimanded Hispanic employees caught speaking Spanish. The EEOC also contends that no corrective action was taken, despite numerous employee complaints, forcing employees to transfer to other stores.
“Employers have to be aware of the consequences of certain language policies,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, which includes San Diego County in its jurisdiction. “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 company’s website, the Albertsons chain is one of the largest food and drug retailers in the United States, employing about 280,000 people across 35 states. Albertsons operates under 19 well-known banners, including Albertsons, Vons, Safeway and Pavilions, and reaches more than 2,300 communities.