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Former Target Employees Accuse Company Of Stereotyping, Intimidating Hispanic Employees

Three former Target employees are suing the company over a document the retail giant released containing “multi-cultural” tips for managers.

The former employees, Robert Gonzalez, Bulmaro Fabian, and Pedro Garcia-Ayala, took issue with the document’s portrayal of Hispanic employees. Here is an excerpt from the document that gives advice on dealing with Hispanic workers:

a. Food: not everyone eats tacos and burritos;

b. Music: not everyone dances to salsa;

c. Dress: not everyone wears a sombrero;

d. Mexicans (lower education level, some may be undocumented);

e. Cubans (Political refugees, legal status, higher education level); and

f. They may say 'OK, OK' and pretend to understand, when they do not, just to save face.

Not exactly typical workplace material. The employees also accused supervisors, most of whom are white, of speaking about Hispanic workers in a derogatory way on the job. The lawsuit claims that supervisors frequently said things like “Only a wetback can work this hard,” and “You’ve got to be a Mexican to work like this,” and “What the hell, I’m already sweating like a Mexican.”

Gonzalez said he complained to Target’s Human Resources department about the language he was hearing on the job, but his went unresolved. To make things worse, Gonzalez says that when his supervisors found out about his HR request, they only berated him with more racial language. All three employees claim they were fired because of their race.

A Target spokesperson would not comment on the lawsuit, but said the company is “firmly committed” to embracing diversity in the workplace. “That commitment includes respecting and valuing the diverse backgrounds of our more than 361,000 team members worldwide.”

Think Progress points out that this isn’t the first time Target has come under fire for poor treatment of employees. In May of 2012, the National Labor Relations Board discovered that Target was intimidating and threatening employees who tried to form a union. The Board also criticized Target for enacting illegal work rules that were designed to prevent workers from speaking out about problems in the workplace.

Ironically, the news comes at a time when Target hopes to increase their marketing appeal to, you guessed it, Hispanic customers. 

Sources: Huffington Post, Think Progress, Minnesota Public Radio


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