There is a McDonalds in my neighborhood which I have been patronizing for about 10 years. I go there about 3-4 times per month. In all those years the store has always been extremely well-run, clean, convenient and my order has not been screwed up even once. FYI, I rarely order anything in the standard configuration – I don’t like pickles, onions, etc. When I go inside I am always greeted in a friendly way by a smiling employee in a spotless, pressed uniform. The parking lot is clean, the trash receptacles are frequently emptied and the tables are always clean.. They even practice proper flag etiquette – Old Glory doesn’t fly in the rain there which is really exception these days. Overalll, the McDonalds in my neighborhood is very well run. It is owned by a partnership between Ed Bailey and McDonalds called Baibrook – which has a truly awful web site. Baibrook has over 60McDonalds locations in the Dallas area.
Mr. Bailey is an icon for the American success story. And McDonalds is an icon for American business success.
My neighborhood has a mix of poor and middle-class. It is has significant populations of Hispanics African-Americans and Whites, plenty of teen-agers and plenty of retirees, apartments condominiums and homes. There is no shortage of available labor for a business like the McDonald’s in my neighborhood.
I’ve noticed something odd about the McDonald’s in my neighborhood however. And in thinking about it, something insidious comes to mind.
In my experience (I’ve been paying attention for several years now), 100% of the non-customer conversation is in Spanish and 100% of the employees are Latino. The moment the employee stops speaking directly to the customer, they begin speaking Spanish. That is not exactly a huge problem for me, but it is improper language etiquette.
The bigger problem is that it totally eliminates the possibility for success of any non-Spanish-speaking employee. I have noticed once or twice a non-Spanish-speaking African-American or elderly employee there, but they never last long. In an environment where employees are directed and supervised in Spanish, how can a non-Spanish-speaking employee be successful? Why would anyone hire someone they knew, in advance, would not be successful? Why would anyone even apply for a job in an environment which conducts business in a language an employee didn’t understand?
The rhetorical answers to the above questions, of course, are they wouldn’t and they couldn’t.
What that means to me is that the Spanish-speaking workplace environment of my neighborhood McDonald’s precludes employment by non-Spanish-speakers. And, since most Spanish-speakers are Hispanic, a workplace environment which precludes employment by non-Spanish-speakers is effectively, if not factually, discriminating if favor of Latinos and against non-Latinos. The practice of Spanish-speaking in the workplace creates a self-perpetuating environment of employment discrimination.
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