[lg policy] Whole Foods revises wording of English-only policy

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Thu Aug 1 21:12:28 UTC 2013

 Whole Foods revises wording of English-only policy 5:32 PM, Jun 15, 2013
  |   1  comments<http://www.wtsp.com/comments/321006/12/Whole-Foods-revises-wording-of-English-only-policy>

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Whole Foods<http://www.wtsp.com/news/local/article/321006/12/Whole-Foods-revises-wording-of-English-only-policy#>has
a whole new language policy for its employees.

Just days after an
began to gather momentum after two Whole Foods employees say they
were suspended for speaking Spanish to each other on the job, the nation's
largest natural foods chain has apologized for its unclear language policy
-- and changed it.

Whole Foods Market co-CEO Walter Robb posted this statement on his blog on
Friday: "On behalf of our senior leadership team, I apologize that a
section of our employee handbook regarding team
in the workplace was not clearly written, and for any
misunderstandings or offense it has created," Robb said. "Its intention was
to foster inclusion, not exclusion. We have changed the wording of this
section and will ensure the new wording and more importantly, the intention
behind it, is reviewed and discussed at all store and facility meetings,
which will be within 45 days' time."

The move came shortly after activists from the organization MoveOn.org
delivered a petition started by ProgressNow New Mexico to Whole Foods
headquarters in Austin to demand that the company end its "English only"
policy in stores. The petition amassed more than 15,000 signatures in about
one week. Those who signed said they would boycott shopping at Whole Foods.

For Whole Foods, a chain whose natural and organic
tend to attract a large number of shoppers with liberal political
views, the petition has been a thorn in its image. The move is expected to
nudge other retailers to revise or reconsider their language policies, too.

On Thursday, activists from MoveOn.org delivered the petition to Whole
Foods headquarters in Austin to demand that the company end its
"English-only" policy in stores.

"We are thankful that the company listened to its
was willing to revise its policies to reflect the growing diversity of
our communities," says Pat Davis, executive director of ProgressNow New
Mexico, an advocacy organization based in Albuquerque.

Robb says it's been a learning experience for Whole Foods.

"This incident in New Mexico provided us the opportunity to revise language
in our handbook, which does not reflect and does not align with the spirit
of this company or our track record of respect and appreciation for our
team members<http://www.wtsp.com/news/local/article/321006/12/Whole-Foods-revises-wording-of-English-only-policy#>over
the past 33 years," Robb added.

"We hope and believe our revised language unequivocally
support for our team members to honor and celebrate their cultures by
speaking the language they prefer, while also helping to ensure a safe,
respectful and courteous work and shopping environment," said Robb in the
blog post.

The brouhaha began after two employees, based in Albuquerque, said they
were suspended for complaining to a manager about a reprimand they had
received for speaking Spanish to each other while on the job. Whole Foods
said the two employees were suspended for poor behavior, not for speaking

"This action shows just how effective grass-roots voices can be to effect
change," says Marsha Garcia of ProgressNow New Mexico.

Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY


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