A federal lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Council claims the La Cantera Resort and Spa, an upscale golf resort on the city's northwest side, routinely prohibited employees form speaking Spanish on the job, even privately to other Spanish speakers, and fired workers who complained about the policy, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
"The Defendants subjected the Class Members to a hostile work environment created by a totality of their conduct, including but not limited to disparate treatment in adverse employment actions and verbal harassment, as well as the imposition of an English-only language policy that discriminated against them based on their national origin, Hispanic," the lawsuit states.
The allegation is that when the current operators of the resort, DH SA Management, took over in 2014, managers instituted an 'English-only language policy.'
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 26 named current and former employees f the La Cantera Resort and Spa, many of whom allege they were fired or demoted for questioning the 'English-only' policy.
One manager, the lawsuit claims, referred to Mexican American employees as 'Mexican spies.'
"Employees were frequently scolded and threatened with termination for speaking Spanish, even when there were no non-Spanish speaking individuals present," the lawsuit claims.
The EEOC says other La Cantera Resort and Spa employees who spoke a language other than English were not punished, citing several examples of Iran born workers speaking Farsi on the job without punishment.
"After the Class Members communicated their concerns about the English-only policy, the Defendants retaliated against Class Members, including by terminating certain Class Members. In response to complaints about the English-only policy, the Defendants’ HR Director stated, “This is America, so speak English! What’s the problem"?" according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for the employees who were punished.