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Workers Required to Speak English in America, Not So Says the EEOC

In September 2015, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit against Antonella’s Restaurant & Pizzeria for creating a hostile work environment, requiring Hispanic employees to speak only English while working in the restaurant. These workers were also subjected to name calling and racial slurs due to their national origin and were treated unfairly relating to leave and sick days. Additionally, one Hispanic worker was fired one day after complaining about being treated so poorly by the co-owner.

On June 22, 2017, the New York pizzeria settled with the EEOC, agreeing to pay the victims $50,000 and to provide “extensive safeguards to prevent future discrimination by implanting anti-discrimination policies, training and problem-solving procedures.”

"This case exemplifies the EEOC's commit­ment to enforcing our laws when employers discriminate against any employees, including especially vulnerable, low-wage workers in a restaurant kitchen,” stated Kevin Berry, EEOC New York District Director.

Building an inclusive and respectful company culture where employees are both educated on what behaviors are expected and empowering them to speak up when they do not feel comfortable, while giving managers/owners the necessary training and tools for fostering a respectful and productive work culture, will help in preventing workplace harassment.