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Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, federal officials filed suit against an Albertons store for banning employees from speaking Spanish.
It is more than a legal problem for the grocery store chain, which employs about 280,000 people in the United States. Only the San Diego store is in trouble for the Spanish-language ban, but it is a practical problem as well.
About 32 percent of the border community there is Hispanic. So how will the Albertsons, a short walk away from Mexico, serve its Spanish-speakers?
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the complaint, alleging store managers reprimanded employees for speaking Spanish on the job. The lawsuit claims workers were barred from speaking Spanish around non-Spanish speakers, and they also couldn't talk to Spanish-speaking customers in the language.
According to the EEOC, employees complained but nothing changed. Christopher Green, director of the EEOC's San Diego office, said workers should report such harassment.
"It is equally important for employers to make certain that harassment is investigated and addressed appropriately."
Albertons released a statement refuting the claims.
"Albertsons serves a diverse customer population and encourages employees with foreign language abilities to use those skills to serve its customers," the statement said.
Census records show the Hispanic population increased in San Diego area by 5 percent over the previous decade. However, it is one of the few border towns that does not have a Hispanic majority.
According to reports, that is changing. While many immigrants push past to Los Angeles, which has nearly 10 percent of the nation's Hispanic population, many settle, raise children and buy homes in San Diego.
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