Things That Matter

A Lawsuit Claims That Employees In San Diego-Area Albertsons Were Banned From Speaking Spanish

Albertsons is facing controversy after a new lawsuit claims the retailer forbid employees from speaking Spanish in San Diego-area stores. According to a lawsuit filed in federal court on Thursday by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the retail chain developed the unwritten policy in 2012. Employees who were caught speaking Spanish would be publicly reprimanded by store managers, according to the lawsuit. Despite multiple employee complaints, the supermarket chain did not change the policy, forcing some employees to transfer.

A lawsuit filed by the EEOC claims employees in some stores were barred from speaking Spanish while working, including to Spanish-speaking customers.

The lawsuit specifies an Albertsons store located San Diego as subjecting “Hispanic employees to harassment and a hostile work environment” due to the imposed policies.

“It is extremely important for workers to feel safe in coming forward to report harassment,” Christopher Green, EEOC’s San Diego office director, told NBC San Diego. “It is equally important for employers to make certain that harassment is investigated and addressed appropriately.”

According to the lawsuit, an upper-level manager at an Albertsons store told Latino employees that “they could not speak Spanish anywhere on the premises regardless of whether they were on break.”

“While we cannot comment on this pending litigation specifically, Albertsons does not require that its employees speak English only,” company spokeswoman Jenna Watkinson told the LA Times. “Albertsons serves a diverse customer population and encourages employees with foreign language abilities to use those skills to serve its customers.”

Yet, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune, Albertsons employees Guadalupe Zamorano and Hermelinda Stevenson both filed complaints to management in 2012 after they were reprimanded for speaking Spanish. Both eventually requested transfers to different stores citing harassment.

There has been immediate backlash on social media due to claims of the lawsuit.

Many are defending the workers and even calling for a boycott to the supermarket chain, which employs some 280,000 employees across 35 states.

Coincidentally Albertsons posted a tweet about Cinco de Mayo that has some calling them “hypocrites”.

The lawsuit asks the court to order Albertsons to stop discriminating against employees based on their national origin, to compensate the aggrieved employees for monetary losses and emotional pain according to proof at trial, to award punitive damages and to pay the EEOC’s legal costs.


Read: Motel 6 Is Being Sued By Two States For Violating Privacy Acts By Giving Guests Lists To ICE

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Family Of Man Who Died From Taco Eating Contest Sue Fresno Grizzlies Owner

Entertainment

Family Of Man Who Died From Taco Eating Contest Sue Fresno Grizzlies Owner

Dana Hutchings, 41, entered a taco eating contest during a Fresno Grizzlies game in 2019. He choked and died during the contest and now his son has filed a lawsuit against the baseball team.

The son of a man who died from a taco eating contest is suing for wrongful death.

Dana Hutchings, 41, died after choking during a taco eating contest during a Fresno Grizzlies game. His son has filed a wrongful death lawsuit claiming that the event organizers were not equipped to host the event. Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that the organizers failed to provide a medical response team.

“People say all the time he knew what he was getting into, well clearly he didn’t,” Martin Taleisnik, an attorney representing Hutchings’ son, Marshall told CBS17.

Marshall and his attorney are pushing back at the notion that Dana should have known better.

People have sounded off on social media criticizing the family for filing the lawsuit. Yet, the family and their attorney are calling attention to the lack of information given to contestants.

“If you don’t know all the pitfalls, how can you truly be consenting and participating freely and voluntarily? It’s a risk that resulted in a major loss to Marshall,” Taleisnik told CBS17.

Dana’s family is seeking a monetary settlement from the Fresno Grizzlies owners.

The wrongful death lawsuit names Fresno Sports and Events as the responsible party. The lawsuit also notes that alcohol was made available to contestants and added to the likelihood of the tragedy.

“We are devastated to learn that the fan that received medical attention following an event at Tuesday evening’s game has passed away. The Fresno Grizzlies extend our heartfelt prayers and condolences to the family of Mr. Hutchings,” a statement from the Fresno Grizzlies read after the death in 2019. “The safety and security of our fans is our highest priority. We will work closely with local authorities and provide any helpful information that is requested.”

READ: Kobe Bryant’s Wrongful Death Lawsuit Has Tragically Been Moved To Federal Court Despite Vanessa Bryant’s Pleas

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A Latina Firefighter in Boston Says the Department Retaliated Against Her When She Reported That She Was Sexually Assaulted by a Colleague

Fierce

A Latina Firefighter in Boston Says the Department Retaliated Against Her When She Reported That She Was Sexually Assaulted by a Colleague

Credit: Screenshot via CBS/WBZ

A former female firefighter was just given a settlement of $3.2 million by the city of Boston for what she characterized as a culture of sexual harassment, shaming, and silencing. Nathalie Fontanez says she was retaliated against by the Boston Fire Department for reporting a sexual assault she experienced at the hands of a colleague.

In 2018, Fontanez says she was sexually assaulted by fellow firefighter David Sanchez.

It all began when Fontanez joined the Boston Fire Department in 2011. The department was looking to hire fluent Spanish speakers, and Fontanez considered the opportunity a “golden ticket”. It was an opportunity for her, a single mom, to provide for her daughter without the assistance of welfare. And, she could prove to her daughter that women can do anything.

But Fontanez’s dream soon turned into a nightmare. After joining the department, she faced an inordinate amount of hazing and harassment because she was a woman and a Latina.

“I’m not a veteran. I’m not a man. I’m a Latin woman. If there was a totem pole, I was at the very bottom,” she explained. “I felt that I had to tolerate anything that came my way, because I was lucky to be there,” she said.

Per Fontanez, the incidents escalated until the day in question when she was assaulted at the firehouse by Sanchez.

After reporting the incident to her superiors, she says that her colleagues turned on her.

In a recent press conference, Fontanez explained the experience in more detail. “Incidents began to escalate and I was then shamed and labeled a trouble-maker,” she said. “The guys that I once relied on for my life’s safety now turned against me.”

While Sanchez was convicted of assault and battery and sentenced to two years of probation, Fontanez says that she was harassed and isolated by her station mates. According to her, the retaliation also included being denied a promotion and being ignored at social events.

“I was often reminded by some of my colleagues that I had taken a job from a man who could have been providing for his family, even though I was a single parent providing for mine,” she said.

Last month, the city settled with Fontanez for $3.2 million. But Fontanez says it’s not about the money–it’s about changing the toxic culture of firehouses. 

“I’m breaking my silence because I believe that women firefighters deserve equal treatment in the Boston Fire Department,” Fontanez said during the news conference. “However, at this point that is the dream, but not the reality, for many women firefighters. The department is overdue for change, and the time for change is now.”

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