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Doughnut Shop Removes ‘English-Only’ Sign

March 18, 2005

YONKERS, N.Y. (AP) _ A sign posted by an Ecuadorean manager at a Dunkin’ Donuts inviting customers to complain if they heard conversation in a foreign language behind the counter was removed a day later _ after customers complained it was discriminatory.

Juan Chalco said he posted the sign on Tuesday because people had complained that employees were speaking Spanish in front of them, saying it was ``disrespectful.″

``It didn’t say they couldn’t speak Spanish, just not in front of the customers,″ he said of the sign. ``And it didn’t say ‘Spanish,’ it just said all foreign languages.″

The sign, however, generated its own complaints. Chalco said he removed it after customers told him it was ``discriminating against the employees.″

The doughnut shop, located in a diverse neighborhood just north of the New York City border, has five Hispanics, an Egyptian and a Filipino among its staff.

Dunkin’ Brands Inc., based in Canton, Mass., said company policy dictates that employees who interact with the public must be fluent in English.

``But clearly, this doesn’t prohibit employees from being fluent in another language,″ the company said in a statement. ``Having employees that speak languages of the local neighborhood in addition to English can be a key element in creating a hospitable environment.″

Dunkin’ spokesman Andrew Mastrangelo said no disciplinary action would be taken against Chalco.

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