Sometimes, even the best intentions can backfire.
Three Target employees are suing their employer after one of its stores issued a memo to managers with “multicultural tips” that said not all Hispanic employees “eat tacos and burritos” and “not everyone dances salsa.”
The ex-workers called the tips offensive and claim they suffered cruel discrimination while working at Target.
Robert N. Gonzalez, 58, Bulmaro Fabian, 58, and Pedro Garcia Ayala, 36, who are Mexican immigrants, filed the lawsuit on June 24 in Superior Court in Yolo County, California.
All three men worked at a Target distribution center from five to 17 years in Woodland, Calif., and claim they were fired for being too old, being Hispanic and in retaliation for reporting managers.
The Target warehouse workers claim white managers harassed them on a “daily basis” on the warehouse floor, using ethnic epithets like, “What the hell? I’m already sweating like a Mexican,” and “Only a wetback can work this hard.”
But most egregious, a lawyer for the workers said, were “multicultural tips” given to managers that said Mexicans have a low education level and Latinos say “'OK, OK' and pretend to understand, when they do not, just to save face.”
“They felt that their supervisors, who were not Hispanic, were treating them differently, and made them feel different," attorney Ilija Cvetich told Fox News Latino. "So when we saw the multicultural tips, we look at that document as potential evidence as, in fact, how the management considered our clients,”
“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.”
- Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder
Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder told Fox News Latino in a statement that the “content of the document referenced is not representative of who Target is.”
Snyder, who apologized to those offended by the “multicultural tips,” insisted that the document was an isolated incident.
“It is never Target's intent to offend our team members or guests and we apologize,” Snyder said. “This document, which was used during conversations at one distribution center, was never part of any formal or company-wide training.”
The document also included subtitled sections like "intracultural differences," where Cubans were described as "political refugees with legal status and a higher educational level" and Mexicans were said to have "lower educational level, some may be undocumented."
Here are some tips offered in the memo:
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 educational level) and
They may say “OK, OK” and pretend to understand, when they do not, just to save face.
The document also made wide generalizations, including "for Hispanics, family is the highest priority" and that the bosses should "look for ways to take advantage of these strong familial tendencies as a source of motivation in the workplace.”
According to the suit, one of the workers, Gonzalez, was humiliated by his manager in retaliation for reporting him for not being paid overtime. The manager also allegedly made disparaging comments toward him.
The manager, the lawsuit said, "elbowed him in his back during a lunch break," used racial epithets and "pushed boxes on the ground and ordered Gonzalez to pick them up" in front of others.
Bryan Llenas currently serves as a New York-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC) and a reporter for Fox News Latino (FNL).
Follow him on Twitter @BryanLlenas.