Whole Foods reviewing language policy - WFLA News Channel 8

Whole Foods reviewing language policy

Posted: Updated:

Whole Foods Market is reviewing its employee language policy after two of its Spanish-speaking workers in New Mexico said they were suspended after complaining about it, a company spokeswoman said Friday.

The Austin, Texas-based organic grocery chain is re-examining the policy "as we speak, and it will be the topic of ongoing conversations at an all-leadership conference next week," spokeswoman Libba Letton said in a statement.

The move comes after two employees at an Albuquerque store said they were suspended for a day after recently complaining about a company rule that they say forbids them from speaking Spanish to each other while on the job. But Whole Foods says the two were suspended for "rude" behavior.

Ben Friedland, the company's Rocky Mountain region executive marketing coordinator, said the policy states that all English-speaking workers must speak English to customers and other employees while on the clock, unless the customer speaks another language.

"Team members are free to speak any language they would like during their breaks, meal periods and before and after work," Friedland said.

He said the policy doesn't prevent employees from speaking Spanish if all "parties present agree that a different language is their preferred form of communication."

News of the suspensions and the policy barring workers from speaking other languages while on the clock sparked outraged on social media and among advocates who started online petitions and called for the company to change the rule.

At a news conference outside the Albuquerque store where the employees were suspended, Ralph Arellanes, state director of the New Mexico League of United Latin American Citizens, said the company has a week to change the policy before advocates will launch a nationwide boycott of Whole Foods.

"I will give them a period of seven days to implement a new policy, which includes (dropping) this policy, or we will hold them accountable," Arellanes said.

Letton said during the review of the policy, Whole Foods Market Inc. will speak with various civil rights groups.

"We are also in the process of reaching out to groups like LULAC to discuss the issue and hear their perspective," she said.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @wflatampa

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Rodents, roaches close 7 Tampa Bay area restaurants

    Rodents, roaches close 7 Tampa Bay area restaurants

    Monday, July 28 2014 12:03 PM EDT2014-07-28 16:03:39 GMT
    State inspectors temporarily closed seven Tampa Bay eateries from July 14 through 19 after discovering problems with rodents or roaches at the restaurants.We've listed the restaurants that were closed, along with details about what inspectors say they found.
    State inspectors temporarily closed seven Tampa Bay eateries from July 14 through 19 after discovering problems with rodents or roaches at the restaurants.We've listed the restaurants that were closed, along with details about what inspectors say they found.
  • Watch this excited dog faint after being reunited with owner

    Watch this excited dog faint after being reunited with owner

    Monday, July 28 2014 7:32 AM EDT2014-07-28 11:32:38 GMT
    Rebecca Ehalt may have missed her dog while away in Europe, but it's clear that her pet schnauzer missed her so much that it knocked the poor pooch off her feet — literally.
    Rebecca Ehalt may have missed her dog while away in Europe, but it's clear that her pet schnauzer missed her so much that it knocked the poor pooch off her feet — literally.
  • Teen killed by stray bullet in Manatee shooting

    Teen killed by stray bullet in Manatee shooting

    Monday, July 28 2014 9:53 AM EDT2014-07-28 13:53:32 GMT
    A shooting was reported at the intersection of the US Highway 301 and University Parkway early Monday morning where a 17-year-old was struck by a bullet and killed, Manatee County Sheriff's Office said.
    A shooting was reported at the intersection of the US Highway 301 and University Parkway early Monday morning where a 17-year-old was struck by a bullet and killed, Manatee County Sheriff's Office said.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.