[lg policy] Outrage Over English-Only Policy at Connecticut Bookstore
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Tue Jan 26 15:16:03 UTC 2010
Outrage Over English-Only Policy at Connecticut Bookstore
News by Mark Berman Opposing Views
(20 Hours Ago) in Politics / Immigration
An English-only policy for employees at a bookstore near Yale
University has sparked controversy in a town noted for being very
friendly to immigrants. Atticus Bookstore and Cafe in New Haven,
Connecticut recently issued a policy stating that English should be
the only language spoken on the floor and behind the counter. "Spanish
is allowed in the prep area, the dishwasher area and the lower level.
Let's make our customers feel welcome and comfortable," the policy
states, according to New Haven Workers Association, a group of
activists who said employees gave them a copy.
Atticus owner Charles Negaro issued a statement, apologizing if news
reports of the policy offended anyone. It went on: "We encourage the
use of English because it's an appropriate way to be most helpful to
our customers. To continue to provide the best service possible, we
try to help those employees who speak English as a second language by
helping them improve their use of English." "Atticus managers and
staff are reviewing our policy of appropriate language usage to
determine how we can avoid misinterpretations of this kind in the
All of this in a city that was the first in the nation to offer
identification cards to illegal immigrants. Yale Law School has been
active fighting for immigrant rights, filing lawsuits over immigration
raids conducted by federal authorities. Some in the community are
outraged. Yale lecturer Tim Stewart-Winter said he likes to take
out-of-town guests to Atticus, but may not now because of the policy.
"I'm really appalled," said Stewart-Winter. "As a New Haven resident
and member of the Yale community, I think diversity is a strength of
Bridget Pierpont, a New Haven resident, said she was texting a friend
as she passed Atticus suggesting they no longer go to the bookstore
because of the language policy. "Frankly, I think that's part of the
charm of this place," Pierpont said. "I think they should absolutely
be able to speak Spanish here." But Peter Indorf, who owns a jewelry
store nearby, defended Negaro and his policy. "He's a solid member of
the community," Indorf said. "He's entitled to do what he wants."
Employers are allowed to enact an English-only policy if it is needed
to promote the safe or efficient operation of their business,
according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Examples include communications with customers, co-workers or
supervisors who only speak English, emergency situations in which
workers must speak a common language to promote safety and cooperative
work assignments in which a common language is needed to promote
However, sometimes the policies go too far. The EEOC has successfully
challenged employers in those instances.
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