Restaurant Fights for English Only Policy

October 24, 2005 ( - R.D.'s Drive-In Restaurant has been fighting since 2002 to keep its policy in place that employees speak only English while at work.

According to the Lake Powell Chronicle, the restaurant established the English only policy after it was reported that some employees were making intimidating, insulting, and lewd remarks about customers and fellow employees while speaking in Navajo. Some employees felt they needed to quit because of the remarks.

R.D.’s said they designed the policy according to guidelines on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) Web site. Employees were allowed to speak in any language while on break. But in 2002, the Chronicle reports, after four employees were fired for not following the rule, the EEOC filed a lawsuit.

In 2003 both parties sat at a settlement conference and came up with an 11 point agreement to settle the case. One point of the agreement was for R.D.’s to pay $7,400 to the four former employees. The next day, when the settlement agreement was to be signed, R.D.’s says the agreement was not the same, and only included four of the 11 agreed upon points. The agreement stated that R.D.’s would rescind its English only policy. R.D.’s refused to sign.

R.D.’s is appealing the settlement in the US 9 th Circuit Court of Appeals. The company indicated that it would agree on the $7,400 settlement if allowed to keep its English only policy and if the EEOC would pay its legal expenses. The company insists that the rule is imperative in the work atmosphere at R.D.’s, as they had been dealing with similar vulgarity and intimidation issues up to 20 years prior to enacting the policy.