When a company sets out to provide sensitivity “tips” when it comes to deal with a multicultural work environment it would be helpful if those tips didn’t lack sensitivity. According to a lawsuit filed by three former Target warehouse employees, their workplace environment was no bueno. The lawsuit alleges that they suffered crude harassment, discrimination and retaliation at work, and that Target’s tips for managers are offensive in themselves.
Target provided its distribution warehouse managers a document titled, ‘Organization Effectiveness, Employee and Labor Relations Multi-Cultural Tips,’” the complaint states.
The document instructs managers to note differences among Hispanic employees, and states the following:
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.”
Well I can’t remember the last time I saw someone in a sombrero.
According to Courthouse News, Robert Gonzalez, Bulmaro Fabian and Pedro Garcia-Ayala claim that nearly all the management positions were held by Caucasians, who regularly used racial slurs while addressing Hispanic employees, such as “Only a ‘wetback’ can work this hard,” “You got to be Mexican to work like this,” and “What the hell, I’m already sweating like a Mexican,” the employees say in the complaint. Although Gonzalez complained to human resources, he was met with retaliation by his supervisors. He states that his manager used even more racial epithets and would berate him in front of coworkers.
A Target spokesperson released the following statement:
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.
In other words, “Our bad. Those pesky warehouse managers. Sorry yall”. The plaintiffs are seeking punitive damages for harassment, failure to prevent harassment, age and race discrimination and retaliation.