Three former employees are suing Target because of an allegedly racist, offensive “multi-cultural tips” guide provided to managers, according to reports.
The memo was meant to note differences among Hispanic employees, such as “not everyone dances to salsa” and “not everyone wears a sombrero.”
The workers in question, who were employed at a warehouse distribution center, filed their complaint in Yolo County Court in California in June.
Robert Gonzalez, Bulmaro Fabian and Pedro Garcia-Ayala allege that they suffered crude harassment, discrimination and retaliation from Target.
They say Target provided distribution warehouse managers with a document titled, "Organization Effectiveness, Employee and Labor Relations Multi-Cultural Tips."
This memo instructs managers to note differences among Hispanic employees, such as:
- Food: not everyone eats tacos and burritos;
- Music: not everyone dances to salsa;
- Dress: not everyone wears a sombrero;
- Mexicans (lower education level, some may be undocumented);
- Cubans (Political refugees, legal status, higher education level); and
- They may say ‘OK, OK’ and pretend to understand, when they do not, just to save face.
The suit also alleges that the plaintiffs were expected to work harder than their white counterparts and “were not given the same overtime opportunities.”
The plaintiffs also claim that nearly all management positions were held by white people who used racial slurs when addressing Hispanic workers.
According to the lawsuit, among the racially insensitive comments made were, “Only a ‘wetback’ can work this hard” and “You got to be Mexican to work like this.”
The three workers say they were ultimately fired; Gonzalez was terminated in May 2011 after seven years at the company, according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs are seeking punitive damages for harassment, failure to prevent harassment, age and race discrimination and retaliation by the company.
Target has not commented on the specific allegations of racism made by the trio, but did apologize for the contents of the memo in question.
Molly Snyder, a spokeswoman, said in a statement: "We strive at all times to be a place where our team and guests feel welcome, valued and respected."
“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."
"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.”