"It was disappointing, of course," said Eddie Cruz. "It was hurtful." Cruz has worked for the city for ten years, but says over the past few months he has been harassed for speaking Spanish on the job. "Now, we are kind of backed in a corner. We got to watch what we say and it just doesn't feel good," said Cruz. The workers are employees in the public works department. Seven men and one woman are listed on the suit claiming they were harassed on several different occasions.
"Although the policy is not written it's being enforced by the highest level of management," said attorney, Christina Agola. "There is no legitimate reason for telling people not to speak their native tongue." Agola is representing the city workers. "The fact that it offends you, that they're speaking Spanish, is not a legitimate reason."
City officials say there is no such policy. City officials released this statement, "Outside of direct supervisor to employee work discussion, employees can and do speak whatever languages they want with each other. This seems to have sprang from a misunderstanding between a supervisor and an employee(s)," said Gary Walker, Director of Communications, City of Rochester.
Cruz says they filed a complaint with management, but nothing was done. "It's becoming kind of hostile," said Cruz. "The rest of the employees think that the whole thing is a joke."