Two women who work in a Valley Wells Fargo bank claim their manager instructed them to stop speaking Spanish to Spanish-speaking employees, says a civil rights lawsuit filed in Superior Court.
The white manager "didn't like" when they spoke Spanish and told them to speak English, even when trying to do business with Spanish-only customers, says the lawsuit, published on courthousenews.com.
The women also claim a pattern of general harassment of Hispanics. The lawsuit notes that although the Wells Fargo branch bank is in a heavily Hispanic area, the manager has managed to either fire or force out every Hispanic who worked there.
Irene Navarrete, one of the women, also claims that she was made by the manager to prove she visited a doctor one day after she missed work, even though white workers are never asked to provide such evidence.
The other woman, Alma Olivia, worked at the branch for 10 years until the manager fired her. She later found a similar job at Wachovia, but when that bank chain was taken over by Wells Fargo, Olivia was fired again.
The alleged treatment of the employees runs counter to Wells Fargo policy, both in terms of harassment and the company's stated desire to give customers the best service possible. The women want back pay and other compensation.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.