English-Only Controversy at City Market Co-op
Paul E. Olsen, Peter T. Kelly
January 1, 2016
Ethics & Social Justice
workplace diversity, English-only policies, human resource management, employee relations, employee discipline
Journal of Critical Incidents
This critical incident considers an English-only language controversy at City Market, Onion River Co-op, a grocery store and food co-op located in Burlington, Vermont. A City Market manager’s practice of encouraging his staff, primarily immigrants and new Americans, to speak English at work was perceived by employees and their union as an “English-only” mandate. Director of Human Resources Meredith O’Neill was faced with deciding how to address the manager and his practice of encouraging employees to speak English at work, upset employees and their union, and what, if anything, City Market’s Personnel Handbook and union contract should say about speaking English at work.