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Resort settles Hispanic national origin suit for over $2.6 million

EEOC ruling

The former management company of a San Antonio resort has agreed to pay $2,625,000 to settle a national origin discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in which they were charged with subjecting Hispanic banquet staff to a hostile work environment based on their national origin, and with retaliating against workers who opposed a restrictive language policy.

In its lawsuit, EEOC v. DH San Antonio Management LLC. et al., the agency said that after assuming control of the resort, the new managers of La Cantera Resort & Spa subjected at least 25 Hispanic banquet employees to verbal abuse and mistreatment because of their national origin, the agency said Thursday in a statement.

The complaint alleged managers “harshly enforced” a policy forbidding banquet staff from speaking Spanish anytime and anywhere in the resort, and when employees raised concerns about this, the employer retaliated against some of them by demoting and firing them and replacing them with non-Hispanic employees.

The agency said as a direct result of the discrimination and retaliation, the formerly all-Hispanic senior management group in the banquet department was reduced to having no Hispanic managers.

EEOC trial attorney Philip Moss said in a statement: “English-only workplace policies can be discriminatory and foster a hostile environment when implemented with the intent to silence foreign languages in the workplace or manufacture a reason to discipline persons who are not native English speakers.”

The resort said in a statement, “The Resort maintains that the claims are without merit, however it was decided that there was value in bringing the matter to a conclusion and agreed to a $2.625 million settlement.”

John Spomer, vice president and managing director of La Cantera Resort & Spa, said in the statement, “This matter goes back five years, citing an alleged English-only speaking policy in a single department. Several employees, who are among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, remain employed at the resort, in that same department.  We do not tolerate discrimination, harassment, or retaliation in any form and are proud to employ a diverse, multi-cultural workforce with ethnic minorities being the majority of our staff. We remain committed to our associates and guests and will continue to embrace the diverse culture of the San Antonio community.”

In September, the EEOC said a California food producer and distributor would pay $2 million to settle an EEOC race discrimination lawsuit in which it was charged with refusing to hire non-Hispanic applicants for unskilled positions. 



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