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Target Publishes Ridiculously Offensive Guide to Hispanic Culture for Managers

Target Publishes Ridiculously Offensive Guide to Hispanic Culture for Managers

Written by Aviva Shen

Three Target employees are suing the retail company over an offensive guide for warehouse managers on how to deal with Hispanic workers. According to the lawsuit filed in Yolo County, California, Target’s “multi-cultural tips” teach predominantly Caucasian managers that not all Hispanic employees are cultural stereotypes who eat tacos and like salsa music. The document also claims that Cubans are more educated and more likely to be legal immigrants than Mexican employees:

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.

The plaintiffs, Robert Gonzalez, Bulmaro Fabian and Pedro Garcia-Ayala, charge that the managers, who are nearly all white, are often openly racist and abusive. Managers allegedly said things like “Only a ‘wetback’ can work this hard,” and “You got to be Mexican to work like this,” and “What the hell, I’m already sweating like a Mexican.” Gonzalez says he complained to human resources, only to be punished with his supervisor’s more concerted efforts to humiliate and demean him using racial epithets. All three employees claim they were fired because of their race.

The tales of abuse, while not proven, fit with the exploitation and abuse immigrant workers regularly endure in low-wage jobs. Many of the nation’s largest companies will hire undocumented workers and then threaten them with deportation if they speak out against poor conditions, harassment and wage theft. In turn, legal immigrants and other workers are told they must endure these same abuses or lose their jobs.

Meanwhile, Target is working hard to capture the Latino consumer market through Spanish-language ads and bilingual signs in stores.

Setting aside the accusations of racism, Target’s track record on employee treatment is lacking. In May 2012, the National Labor Relations Board found the company guilty of intimidating workers who tried to form a union. The company was also cited last year for maintaining illegal work rules designed to keep workers from speaking out.

UPDATE: Target confirmed to the Huffington Post that the document was indeed being used at a company distribution center. Though it was not part of any “formal or company-wide training,” the company holds itself responsible, saying: “It is never Target’s intent to offend our team members or guests and we apologize.”

This post was originally published at ThinkProgress.

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Photo by Sarah Gilbert

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164 comments

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1:15PM PDT on Aug 20, 2013

Is this true? Wow!

1:46PM PDT on Jul 26, 2013

Helga dear!! Your a stories sound so familiar to that of my mum's travels during my fathers career!
As ashamed as I sometimes feel, I'm an American, and I don't like the place where I am living, nor the people, nor the food, and I am in an American town! When I go out, I think,.."Yuk! How do they eat this crap? I much prefer to eat my own cooking and my own food at home!
I think I would much prefer to be back home in Honolulu, or in England, or India, to where I am presently!
I think the difference that you recognize is the vast difference in culture, ethics and scruples that is role modeled between being overseas, verses being on the mainland. But that is not ALWAYS the case of all mainlanders. Some kind still be kind and generous, if not show up as a miracle.
I think in the space of working conditions, it all evolves around the personality and the ego, that get bundled up in the "construed" message of diversity and superiority, which causes a conflict. That is what has become evident of the Target HR/ management case.

1:12PM PDT on Jul 26, 2013

Eleonora,and Jenevieve,-we had the homework problem with math! My husband has 3 Masters Degrees in solid state physics,BioMed,and EE,and 10 US patents so he is credible.He's been the CEO of 3 companies and the CTO of another. The teachers agreed with the answers but couldn't figure out where he got it.As for the ugly American,I've met them while traveling.They don't like the places they visit,the people they meet,the food,they are served,or anything else.It makes you wonder why they ever left home.We.on the other hand,never go anywhere without a guidebook, a simple phrasebook, cameras,and gifts. We always make friends. And wherever we go,store owners,bank tellers, cafe owners,etc, give us gifts.Even in India, we were given gifts by shop keepers and it wasn't because we bought thousands of $ worth of silks.The most I spent in one place on my last trip was 410 rupees for 12 sets of wedding bangles and a hand carved wooden altar.The Specialty jeweler gave me a lovely intact conch shell that the wedding bangles are cut from.Rich people are impressed by money.Poor people are impressed by kindness.For the rich,there is never enough,and for the poor and the honest ,even a smile makes them happy and you as well.410 rs=$6.90.

11:10AM PDT on Jul 26, 2013

Btw Helga,.. When I was a sophmore in high school, my mum had a knock down drag out rival with my Spanish teacher. It seems the dialects are different between those from Spain and those from Argentina. My mum would say that those from Mexico speak sloppy spanish. My teacher would discipline me hostily because of my mum attempting to help me with my homework! It didn't help that my father was a scholared Geophysicist who also LOVED helping me with my homework. I will never forget when one of my other teachers (I think Chemistry?) sent home a note saying:"You're father did your homework again! The equation is right, I just don't know how he got it?" My father could be called to survey all over the world because of his expertise, and no one cared if he could speak the language where he was sent! When we moved to new mexico, My mum's thoughts were that "Being that my brother and I were "Caucasian" and we spoke English, we would have the upper hand with the locals!" YEAH RIGHT!!
BTW, Do you ever feel like you are living a real life version of "I LOVE LUCY?" .. similar to that of Ricky Ricardo and Lucielle Ball? hehehe

10:56AM PDT on Jul 26, 2013

OH GOD! Another morning of Freeing humor with the ladies of the Care2 community! It is so WONDERFUL! Thank you Eleonora and Helga! You have truly made my day!
For what it's worth Eleonora, The only words I learned in spanish were less than those for survival: Cat, dog, horse, pants,socks, shoes, blouse, hair, eyes, mouth, nose, teeth, hands, arms & legs, grandma & grandpa, sister/brother, open & close the door/window, all the basic colors, some fruit, knife and fork, butter & milk. Oh, and of course, good morning, good night, see you tomorrow and THANK YOU!! (and one nasty female cuss word!)
Once in a while a nice foreigner will walk up to me with a grateful, friendly smile (i guess realizing I'm intelligent and approachable) and ask me for help to translate for them to the extent of a basic word or two, and then they nodd their head and say thank you and walk away. I feel like a total boob because I can't carry on a conversation, but that's my fault, but I still survive. I guess it boils down to how much foreigners feel they need to learn English based on who they interacted with on a daily basis. Still, if your going to come to America, you need to learn English!

5:39AM PDT on Jul 26, 2013

Addition:

I just see the time of my posting - 5.37 am - and you must think I'm crazy! Here it's 2.37 pm right now ...

5:37AM PDT on Jul 26, 2013

Having been out this morning I'd like to tell a little story. So far the discussion was about foreigners coming to the US and not being able or not wanting to learn English. How is it the other way around?

Living in Egypt the language is Arabic. Many from the middle and upper class do still speak fluently French (French occupation and it also used to be a class indicator very much like in Switzerland) and equally many do speak fluently English (thanks to the British occupation and that English is omnipresent). All this generally doesn't apply though when one goes shopping in a supermarket - there the personnel speaks Egyptian Arabic only.

I helped a couple with translation because they couldn't get what they wanted. My Arabic is far from anywhere near good (my assessment) but I manage pretty good and stay out of troubles - LOL. We had a chat, it turns out they're Americans and are here since 3 1/2 years. Not one word Arabic except Thank You (= Shukran). I was quite surprised and he told me: "Lady, why the f*** should I learn such a ... (too embarassed) ... language? I don't need that - I'm American!"

I was fuming inside and tried to brush over it. Instead this nice gent wouldn't let go and wanted to know why such a "nice gal" is in such a terrible place. That's when I saw red and my fuse went "bummmmmm". The rest was short and unpleasant from my side ...

12:30AM PDT on Jul 26, 2013

Jenevieve-Oh boy do I understand.My husband is a Bengali Indian but he also speaks Hindi and Marathi and some Urdu. When we were newly married, I was shocked that people would feel free to come to our home,eat food that I had spent 3 days preparing,and then talk over me in Bengali.All of them could speak English.It was my home after all,and yet,they were shutting me out of the conversation.Occasionally, they would give me a condescending look and say ,do you speak Bengali? knowing perfectly well the answer was no. This scene repeated itself over an over again on each and every meeting.I wasn't terribly popular,especially when the husbands started saying my cooking was better than their's and my mother-in-law agreed. The women asked the same things,did I drink tea? did I wear sandals? who dressed me?Prejudice comes in all colors.They couldn't believe I could wear a sari and had since I was 16 with no help. Fast forward to 20 years later. By then I could follow conversations in Hindi and Bengali but there were no books on how to speak Bengali,The only books were written in Hindi script and assumed you knew how to speak Hindi already and could move on to Bengali,learn the grammar,tongue placement,script,and move on. "My buffalo is dying.Why won't you help?"
Useless.So every now and then a newcomer would spot me and ask why,if I had a Bengali husband,I didn't speak Bengali. I asked why,if he had an Austrian wife,he spoke no German.
That shut them up for a little while but not

10:49PM PDT on Jul 25, 2013

Kevin,.. As my mum was born in Argentina, she and her three sisters learned the spoken language, being Spanish, from the time they were children, yet for some strange reason, my grandparents never did. They would always ask them, "what are you girls saying" (in englsih)? I will also never understand why grandparents (on my mum's side never grasped the language..)
As Helga commented how she feels it is rude for others to speak their language in front of those who don't, it comes to mind that when my mum was really pissed off, she'd go in her room, slam the door and call her sister and bitch about us kids in SPANISH! Here she taught school children spanish, but it was never spoken at home. so we never learned the language. Quite the conundrum! Oddly, after living in California, and now New Mexico, you would think I would have learned Spanish to be able to live in two bilingual states.
Call it my Shortcoming, but none the less, it doesn't matter how diverse this country is, our forefathers lived by the English language. The primary language in America, or should I say "Predominant" language is English. The secondary is Spanish. From what I hear you saying, maybe it should become a manditorial requirement for us to speak their language (spanish) to get along, or just deal with it for what it is in difference?

10:03PM PDT on Jul 25, 2013

Personally I believe there are many things worthy of being upset about but getting hot and bothered over speaking English is not one of them. It is much harder for older people to learn new languages (as opposed to children who's brains are hard-wired to language acquisition).

If an older immigrant does not learn the language quickly (or at all) is really no big deal. Many of our immigrant ancestors immigrated to the U.S. and never learned the language, but the next generation always does.

When I was in high school my best friends grandmother was an Italian immigrant and she could only speak a few words of English. She was the sweetest woman you would ever want to meet. She never did learn English, but her children did.

Most immigrants wish to learn the language, some of the older immigrants have trouble, to be successful it is important to be able to speak the language, most that can, will. Like I said, hardly anything to get hot and bothered about.

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