A janitorial airline contractor at Los Angeles International Airport and more than a dozen of its employees have settled a case alleging their supervisor improperly prohibited them from speaking Spanish during work hours and breaks.
Attorneys for lead plaintiff Irma Espinoza and the other Gate Gourmet workers filed a notice of dismissal of the lawsuit last Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court and a notice of settlement in March. No terms were divulged.
In May 2015, the janitors sued Gate Gourmet — which provides cabin cleaning and restocking services to Delta Air Lines at LAX — accusing the company of failing to prevent the discriminatory policy.
The suit alleged unlawful workplace language policy, harassment, failure to prevent discrimination and national origin discrimination.
Gate Gourmet spokeswoman Christina Ulosevich said at the time that the company “does not have an English-only rule” and communicates with employees “in multiple languages, and certainly in both English and Spanish in Los Angeles.”
The plaintiffs worked for other companies that contracted with Delta Airlines to clean the carrier’s cabins until Gate Gourmet began servicing their planes in May 2014, the suit stated.
From the inception of Gate Gourmet’s takeover, swing shift manager Silvana Jahshan instituted an English-only policy, according to the lawsuit.
“Gate Gourmet’s language policy requires plaintiffs and employees who do not speak English to go without speaking during a work day,” according to the suit, which alleged Jahshan “intimidated, harassed and threatened” those plaintiffs who spoke Spanish in violation of the rule.
“Plaintiffs who only speak Spanish are too afraid to speak whatsoever due to fear of discrimination, harassment, humiliation and discipline,” according to the lawsuit.
Gate Gourmet did not impose an English-only rule on its morning or night shift workers even though those employees do the same jobs as their colleagues on the swing shift, the suit stated.
When the workers raised complaints about their supervisor’s alleged English-only policy, Gate Gourmet’s management and human resources “did not take any action whatsoever to correct the discrimination, harassment, and unlawful treatment,” according to the lawsuit.