Months after her boss allegedly fired her for speaking Spanish, Francisca Pérez is fighting back.
Back in May, Pérez, a line cook, and waitress Janet Ruelas-Nava talked in Spanish about whether a dish was ready to go be served at Osteria Fasulo in Davis, California. When owner, Leonardo Fasulo – who was born in Argentina and raised in Italy – heard them, he reportedly yelled at them and told them they couldn’t speak in Spanish at the restaurant. When she told him that he being discriminatory, he asked her if she wanted him to put burritos on the menu. “This is America. We speak English here,” he said, according to Pérez.
When Fasulo’s sons, who work in the restaurant, tried to console her, he disciplined them. In the end, Fasulo fired Pérez, who he interviewed in Spanish more than a decade ago, according to NBC News.
Now, with the help of the Center for Workers’ Rights, Pérez has filed a complaint with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing. California prohibits employers to discriminate against employees based on their language or accent (and if workers must speak a certain language, the business must be able to provide proof).
“We had taken time to talk to the employer to see if they were interested in resolving before we filed anything,” said Daniela Urban, Perez’s lawyer. “They were not. … She watched his kids grow up in the restaurant. It was hard for her not to work there anymore and have this happen after so many years of dedicated service.”