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Submitted by SteveAnderson on


I saw this in the news recently and wondered what the MT community would think about it:

SUMMARY: A hotel in a predominantly Hispanic area of the state was purchased by someone from out of state.  All employees were laid off and asked to reapply with a new set of employment conditions.  Among the conditions:

  1. Employees with long names were asked to simplify (read: anglicize) their names for the purpose of their work.  For example, Martín became Martin, Marcos became Marc.
  2. Employees were mandated to speak English only in the presence of the owner or any guests unless they were assisting a guest with limited English speaking ability.

Of course this has caused controversy.  There has been picketing, adverse news coverage, threats of lawsuits from cultural advocacy groups, and, of course, the usual name-calling.

So I have three questions about both requirements:

  1. Are they legal?
  2. Are they ethical?
  3. Are they effective?


jhbchina's picture

  1. Are they legal? Not a Lawyer
  2. Are they ethical? Duh No!
  3. Are they effective? Subject say's it all

From a marketing standpoint, this is no way to get customers in that area to stay at the hotel. Maybe the new owners are thinking of transitioning to a new business model, or a new target market. I would not stay there.



bug_girl's picture

My first thought was that this was done by folks that think that service personnel are subhuman. It seems to be a common misconception :(

Maybe speaking English is a 'requirement' of the job--which I question--but there are a whole lot of other ways to achieve this end that don't involve disruption of the community and loss of identity and jobs.

Think of the great PR possibility--new company takes over, and decides to help its employees achieve competence in {fill in desired skill here}.

I'm with JHB--I would never stay there either.

loubrothers's picture

I ignore items 1 and 2 and go straight to #3 with an answer of No.  

I spend 3-4 days a week in a hotel in a town with a very large latin community.  Recently a member of the hotel's staff quit over reduced hours.  Many guests complained that our friend who took care of us (because she knew the area and who to call as well as having a history with us) was no longer there.  A month later she was back with full hours and better pay. 

Getting rid of the staff that knows the area, knows the long term guests, and know each other is a bad move.  Asking that they speak English in front of guests makes some sense from a comfort perspective on the part of the guest... but that should probably be addressed on a case by case basis.

LimaEchoPapa's picture

I live and work in the same state as the original poster and I work in the hotel industry...and frankly, it's a problem.

One of the biggest complaints we get from guests is that our housekeeping staff cannot respond to basic questions because they speak **no** English.  In my department alone, we have a fabulous worker that a lot of our guests have a hard time understanding...and it's alienating, confusing, and hard to clean up the mistakes after the fact.

While I wholeheartedly disagree with the language and the intent of the policy, I don't necessarily disagree that high contact guest service employees be fluent (and I mean FLUENT) in the predominant language of their guests.

And, it's such horribly bad karma to lay off all employees and ask them to "reapply"...that's trouble just waiting to happen.

jhbchina's picture

New hotel owner hounded by racism charges

There you have it folks, he now is on the front of MSN 's website, and being sued. Congrats we all saw this one coming two miles away.

JHB "00"