What could Minnesota’s own Target have been thinking? According to a race discrimination lawsuit filed by three former employees who worked at a California Target warehouse, their managers were virtually all Caucasians who routinely used racial slurs against Hispanics and otherwise discriminated against people of Latino origin. The three Hispanic men claim they were fired in retaliation for making a complaint to human resources.
The truly shocking part of the case, however, was a document, apparently sent out by a local, not company-wide human resources department. it purports to give advice to distribution warehouse managers on how to sensitively manage Hispanic employees. That document, "Organization Effectiveness, Employee and Labor Relations Multi-Cultural Tips," is so full of offensive racial stereotypes that it goes beyond being mere evidence for their case and may constitute race discrimination on its own.
The full text of Target’s multi-cultural tips for managing Hispanics is available by clicking on the source link at the end of this post. Highlights unfortunately include:
- “Not everyone wears a sombrero”
- “Mexicans (lower education level, some may be undocumented)”
- “They may say 'OK, OK' and pretend to understand, when they do not, just to save face.”
For its part, Target has offered a full apology and promises to take full responsibility for the offensive memo. “It is never Target’s intent to offend our team members or guests and we apologize,” a company spokesperson told the Huffington Post. “This document, which was used during conversations at one distribution center, was never part of any formal or company-wide training.”
The retailer may have some serious public relations work ahead. In May, Target’s CEO announced a major push toward attracting Latino customers. "We are going to source dominant presentations of Latino and Hispanic merchandise through the entire store," he told a Minnesota Public Radio reporter at the time. "It's a big effort that we have internally to really stretch ourselves and jump way out in front."
Source: Huffington Post, "Target Reminded Bosses Not All Hispanic Employees Eat Tacos, Wear Sombreros: Lawsuit," Kim Bhasin, July 10, 2013