Printed on a piece of printer paper, the sign might not even get a second glance when one walks by it. But for the Spanish speaking workers in Billy Reed’s restaurant in Palm Spring, California, the sign is an important one.
“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."
This new rule for employees came about after the owner Billy Reed received complaints from customers that they felt “uncomfortable” with hearing some of the employees speaking to each other in Spanish. The customers also expressed concerns that the customers could be talking about them.
For one restaurant employee, the sign is more than just a rule, he thinks it’s 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," the employee told reporters at local station KESQ.
"He posted the sign. He doesn't want (anyone) to speak Spanish anywhere in the restaurant except with the cooks in the line," he said.
After hearing that general manager warn a co-worker that they could get fired for speaking his native tongue, the employee began to fear for his job.
"He said that the boss was going to fire the first one he heard talking in Spanish," the employee told reporters.
Though Reed confirmed that the sign was indeed posted in the kitchen, he told reporters that the workers wouldn’t be fired if they were caught speaking anywhere else in the restaurant.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that an English-only rule violates their anti-discrimination laws unless they are absolutely necessary to operate the business and sale “safely or efficiently.”