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Albertsons To Pay $210,000 To Settle Discrimination Suit Based Out Of La Mesa

A customer walk near the entrance to a Albertsons grocery store in Tustin, Ca...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: A customer walk near the entrance to a Albertsons grocery store in Tustin, Calif., Monday, Sept. 19, 2011.

Albertsons has agreed to pay $210,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit alleging the manager of an Albertsons supermarket in La Mesa harassed employees for speaking Spanish on the job, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced Tuesday.

The EEOC's lawsuit alleged a store manager was allowed to harass employees at the Lake Murray Boulevard Albertsons in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on national origin.

According to the complaint filed in San Diego federal court, employees were not allowed to speak Spanish even while on breaks, or when conversing with Spanish-speaking customers.

In addition to the $210,000, which the EEOC says will go to "a class of affected employees," Albertsons has agreed to review and possibly revise its discrimination policies and procedures and provide training to employees and managers, with an emphasis on language discrimination. Albertsons will also be required to submit reports to the EEOC and keep records demonstrating compliance with a consent decree settling the suit.

"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 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."

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