Tag Archives: English only Whole Foods

Courtesy — It Works!

Per a recent CNN blog: In response to customer complaints, Whole Foods is enforcing an English only policy during work time on employees, in – of all places – 47% Hispanic New Mexico.

Whole Foods is known for being staunchly anti-union, so this is no surprise, but before going all politically correct regarding the language issue, is it possible that both sides of this “debate” are missing an important point?

I get why employees want to be able to speak the language they are most comfortable in to each other, and why most Spanish-speaking people are resentful of “English only” anything — especially in a place like New Mexico where many residents are quite proud of their heritage.

I understand why customers aren’t comfortable when employees are speaking in a language they don’t know. Their reasons include statements like: “My grandparents came to this country and they had to learn English.” That may not be particularly rational, or even historically correct – said grandparents may have come from an English speaking country, or they may never have actually learned enough English to get by without help. There might even be an underlying prejudice, and there’s a limit to “the customer is always right.” Sometimes the customer may ask for something that clearly is not right, as in “Fire the girl with the headscarf or I won’t come back.” Assuming the headscarf, and not job performance, prompted the complaint, the correct answer from management would be, “We’ll miss your business.”

But the “English only” crowd may have other reasons besides “English is the official language of these United States” which is not a true statement no matter how often it’s said. They may feel like people are talking about them when they can’t Continue reading Courtesy — It Works!