Put a nickel on the drum, but no pesos please. Salvation Army attacked for policy of all-English, all-the-time
debaron at uiuc.edu
Sun Aug 26 04:42:34 UTC 2007
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Put a nickel on the drum, but no pesos please. Salvation Army
attacked for policy of all-English, all-the-time
In 2005 the Salvation Army fired two long-time employees of its
Framingham, MA, thrift store for speaking Spanish, not English, on
The Salvation Army’s long-standing English-only requirement is
articulated in its employee handbook, available only in English. It
states that workers must use English “when speaking to any other
employee, beneficiary, customer or to a supervisor.” But the rule
wasn’t enforced until 2004, five years after Dolores Escorbor and
Maria Del Carmen Pedromo had begun working at the Framingham store.
The Salvation Army gave the two Hispanic women a year to bring their
English up to speed, and when that didn’t happen, they were sacked.
Now the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has stepped in to sue
the Christian charity, whose mission statement calls for it to meet
human needs “without discrimination,” for discrimination.
The Salvation Army denies breaking the law, insisting that its
English-only policy “serve[s] only to protect the welfare and safety
of our employees and those whom we serve in fulfillment of our
mission.” To make sure everyone gets that message, the Army said it
in Spanish as well: its employees must speak English for “la
protección del bienestar y la seguridad tanto de nuestros empleados
como de aquellos a quienes servimos en el cumplimiento de nuestra
Exactly how speaking English protects the welfare and safety of two
women whose job is sorting clothes for a thrift shop isn’t entirely
clear. Plus the Salvation Army is apparently busy saving souls in
languages other than English all over the world.
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the Web of Language
Professor of English and Linguistics
Department of English
University of Illinois
608 S. Wright St.
Urbana, IL 61801
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