Latino Employees At A San Antonio Resort Were Told Not To Speak Spanish And The Resort Is Now Paying Them $2.6 Million
Located just north of downtown San Antonio, sits a picturesque hotel atop a hill that sports a lavish pool and jacuzzi, a relaxing outdoor seating area with a bonfire, and spacious rooms. It’s a place where people come to get away and get pampered to the nines. This magical place is called La Cantera Resort & Spa, and it’s so grand and beautiful that it’s won awards, including the Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers Choice Awards for the top resort in Texas and the Southwest. However, underneath all the beauty are people that clean it, that cook for guests, that help put the hotel on its high pedestal. It is those people who claim the former management discriminated against them because of their national origin.
The former management team of La Cantera Resort & Spa agreed they would settle a lawsuit against Latino staff who claim they discriminated against for speaking Spanish.
The lawsuit was initially filed last year after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigated the claims for three years.
“According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the resort in Northwest San Antonio changed management in 2014 and began prohibiting employees from speaking Spanish. Management allegedly punished those who violated the language ban with write-ups, demotions, and firings,” the Rivard Report found.
The lawsuit also claimed that some staff members were called “Mexican spics” and said Spanish was a “foul language.”
“My father, he speaks Spanish, and they were telling me not to talk to my dad in Spanish, and I can’t [not speak Spanish] – it’s my father,” Sergio Vitela told the Rivard Report last year. He and his dad both worked at the resort. “That’s when I started seeing the first signs of them not liking our culture and race, really. They were telling us not to speak any Spanish.”
A year after the lawsuit was filed, the former managers have agreed to settle the matter out of court and pay 25 Latino workers $2,625,000.
Former managers of La Cantera Resort & Spa have maintained that the allegations against them were false.
John Spomer, the resort’s former vice president, and managing director said that employees were only instructed to speak the language that hotel guests spoke to them.
“It’s part of the service business,” Spomer said last year. “When spoken to in one language, we should speak in that language.”
According to Business Insurance, the former managers of La Cantera Resort & Spa said the reason they decided to pay because “it was decided that there was value in bringing the matter to a conclusion and agreed to a $2.625 million settlement.”
The EEOC stated that enforcing employees to only speak English creates a hostile environment.
“English-only workplace policies can be discriminatory and foster a hostile environment when implemented with the intent to silence foreign languages in the workplace or manufacture a reason to discipline persons who are not native English speakers,” EEOC Trial Attorney Philip Moss stated in a press release.
The lawsuit claims La Cantera Resort & Spa violated “Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on national origin, including harassment and retaliation, forbids such alleged conduct.”
“An employee working in the U.S. should not have to fear being fired, demoted or subjected to discipline because his or her family tree has roots in another country, Robert Canino, the regional attorney for the Dallas District Office of the EEOC, said in a statement. “San Antonio, Texas is an environment rich with cross-cultural communication. Beyond the requirements of the law, business patrons might also appreciate a service industry that reflects that diversity.”
It looks as if the new management is more supportive of their diverse staff, their native language, and all they contribute.
Late last month, La Cantera Resort & Spa gave a shoutout to their housekeeping staff after they won the Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers Choice Awards for the top resort and said on Instagram, ” To continue recognizing the people that helped us earn the spot as the @cntraveler Readers’ Choice #1 Resort in Texas & the Southwest, we’d like to introduce our housekeeping team. Beyond a spotless room, a smile & friendly “hello” in the hallways and a handwritten thank you note to our guests – their passion and dedication embodies the La Cantera Resort & Spa culture of serving. Thank you for all that you do. #TEAMLaCantera.”
That goes to show, when you treat your employees with respect, they will do a good job for you.