ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Two employees are accusing an Albuquerque Whole Foods Market of discriminating against Spanish speakers however, Whole Foods says otherwise.
The two employees say their manager told them no Spanish at work, and when they questioned it, they were punished.
Whole Foods says it suspended two workers because of their behavior not the language they used, but critics say they are backtracking.
"I almost fell off my chair," said Ralph Arellanes, state director with the New Mexico League of United Latin American Citizens.
He says he is insulted by allegations that a Whole Foods department leader told her employees, "No Spanish on the clock."
An employee asking to remain anonymous gave KRQE News 13 a copy of the policy.
It doesn't say no Spanish but it does say it's essential you speak English any time you're on the clock and discussing work related subjects.
"We are going to give them a period of seven days to implement a new policy, which means to drop this policy, or we will hold them accountable and call for a nationwide boycott," Arellanes said.
An employee also gave KRQE News 13 a letter Lupe Gonzales and Bryan Baldizan wrote to store managers.
It says while applying the store policy, Spanish speakers were the only ones singled out.
Baldizan writes, "I could not understand how for Cinco de Mayo, we dressed employees up in sarapes and sombreros with fake mustaches but the language that is connected with that was suddenly forbidden."
Whole Foods Market suspended Baldizan and Gonzales after they wrote the letter. However, in a statement Whole Foods says it was because of their "rude and disrespectful behavior".
The Whole Foods statement says it investigated the allegations and more than a dozen other workers at a meeting where the language policy was discussed say they were never told they couldn't speak Spanish.
Whole Foods says the default language is English for consistent communication, especially for safety and emergency situations.
The company also says it prevents team leaders and customers from feeling excluded.
LULAC is threatening a boycott and maybe even a lawsuit if Whole Foods doesn't change its language policy.
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