Target is facing a discrimination suit from three former employees who say their employer was insulting even when trying to be understanding. While such lawsuits often look for new ways to be insulted, these three men, Robert Gonzalez, Bulmaro Fabian, and Pedro Garcia-Ayala, who worked in the warehouse of a California distribution center, claim that not only were the general remarks of managers insulting, but the memo the managers distributed entitled “Organization Effectiveness, Employee and Labor Relations Multi-Cultural Tips,” was itself offensive. It reads (in abridged form):
a. Food: not everyone eats tacos and burritos;
b. Music: not everyone dances to salsa;
c. Dress: not everyone wears a sombrero;
d. Mexicans (lower education level, some may be undocumented);
e. Cubans (Political refugees, legal status, higher education level); and
f. They may say ‘OK, OK’ and pretend to understand, when they do not, just to save face.
While this might seem amazingly softball stuff for a lawsuit, the managers involved also made a few comments that might fuel effective litigation.
“You got to be Mexican to work like this.”
“What the hell, I’m already sweating like a Mexican.”
“Only a Mexican can work this hard,” and
“Only a ‘wet-back’ can work this hard.”
Target, in response to the supposedly offensive “multicultural tips” page has made a statement to ABC News, stating, “It is never Target’s intent to offend our team members or guests and we apologize. The content of the document referenced is not representative of who Target is. We strive at all times to be a place where our team and guests feel welcome, valued and respected. This document, which was used during conversations at one distribution center, was never part of any formal or company-wide training. We take accountability for its contents and are truly sorry.”
Target has also claimed, through spokeswoman Molly Snyder, that Target is “firmly committed” to workplace diversity, and “that commitment includes respecting and valuing the diverse backgrounds of our more than 361,000 team members worldwide,” a statement hitting all these keywords that we might one day drown in.
The suit, meanwhile, does not specify how much the employees are seeking in compensation, but it alleges that they lost their jobs, ultimately, because they complained about management’s slurs. Since the recourse to human resources ended in Fabian and Garcia-Ayala losing their jobs, the case might be able to hold some water.
The national nonprofit organization LATISM has said “It’s very disturbing to think that a company which has a pretty good public persona might have such an ugly private face.”
Target meanwhile claims they are specifically targeting Hispanic customers as one of the biggest and fastest-growing minority groups in the U.S., a group that for the sake of profit they are not eager to offend.