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Press Release 06-02-2020

Albertsons to Pay $210,000 to Settle EEOC National Origin Discrimination Lawsuit

Grocery Store Manager Harassed a Class of Hispanic Employees Over Language, Federal Agency Charged

SAN DIEGO – Albertsons LLC, a national retail grocery chain, has agreed to pay $210,000 to settle a class national origin discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

The EEOC’s lawsuit charged that Albertsons allowed a manager to harass Hispanic employees, particularly limited English-speaking employees, because they spoke Spanish, at an Albertsons store on Lake Murray Blvd. in La Mesa, California, formerly Store No. 6785. 

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on national origin.  The EEOC considers blanket English-only rules, forbidding employees to speak any other language during the work day, even during breaks or away from customers, as a form of national origin discrimination. 

The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (EEOC v. Albertsons Companies, Inc., et. al., Case No. 3:18-cv-00852-MMA-BGS) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to $210,000 in monetary relief that will go to a class of affected employees, the two-year consent decree settling the suit, which remains under the court’s jurisdiction during the decree’s term, includes injunctive relief aimed at preventing workplace national origin discrimination in the future. Albertsons has agreed to review, and, if necessary, revise its policies and procedures on discrim­ination and provide training to employees and managers on federal anti-discrimination laws with an emphasis on language dis­crimination. Finally, Albertsons is required to submit reports to the EEOC and keep records necessary to demonstrate its compliance with this decree.         

“The EEOC commends Albertsons for agreeing to meaningful and comprehensive measures to correct this situation,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District, whose juris­diction includes San Diego County. “It is important for employers to train employees and make clear that their use of language in the workplace should not impact one group over another.”

Christopher Green, director of the EEOC’s San Diego’s local office, said, “Given the nature of an increasingly diverse workforce, employers should be mindful that the imposition of restrictive language policies may not comply with federal law.”

Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, especially class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against racial, ethnic and religious groups, older workers, gender, and people with disabilities, is one of six national priorities identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employ­ment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.