Three Italian restaurants created a hostile work environment for Hispanic employees because of their national origin, demanding that they only speak English, and fired one employee in retaliation for his complaint, according to a lawsuit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
According to the discrimination lawsuit, the owner of Antonella’s Restaurant and Pizzeria, Inc., and Grand Centro located in Fishkill and Wappingers Falls, N.Y., on an almost daily basis, subjected Hispanic workers to slurs because of their national origin, such as “f***” Spanish, Mexicans, Hispanics or landscapers. Additionally, the co-owner demanded that Hispanic employees speak only English in the workplace, and to illustrate his point, he took out a dollar bill from his wallet, held it, and told the Hispanic workers, “This is America, you must speak English.” The lawsuit also claims that Hispanic workers were treated less favorably regarding leave and sick days. Finally, a Hispanic worker was fired for pretextual reasons the day after he complained about this mistreatment. The alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits national origin discrimination and retaliation for the exercise of rights guaranteed the discrimination under the laws. EEOC attorneys filed the lawsuit (EEOC v. Antonella’s Restaurant and Pizzeria, Inc., et al, Case No. 15-cv-07666) in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
“When one of the owners regularly denigrates workers because of their national origin, it creates an environment that violates federal law as well as common decency,” said Kevin Berry, District Director of the EEOC. According to the EEOC, since the harasser was an owner, the workers felt that they had no recourse but to endure the ill-treatment. Workers need to know they do not have to be subjected to slurs based on their national origin in order to keep their jobs.