Twitter users are fuming over a sign at a Baltimore Dunkin’ Donuts encouraging customers to report employees speaking a foreign language. The sign, which was spotted Monday morning by a producer for local news station WBAL, asked patrons who overheard “staff shouting in a language other than English” to call a number and provide the name of the employee in exchange for a coupon redeemable for a free coffee and pastry. The sign attributed the request to the store’s general manager.
A call to the number on the sign went unanswered; a staff member at the Baltimore location who answered the phone simply said that the sign had been taken down. In a statement, a Dunkin’ spokesperson said via email:
Dunkin’ Donuts and our franchisees share the goal of creating a welcoming and hospitable environment for all guests. The franchise owner has informed us that the sign was posted by their general manager based on her own personal judgment to ensure those standards are being met. While her intent was to address a customer service and satisfaction issue, the franchisee determined her approach was inappropriate and confirmed the sign has been removed.
Some on social media are calling for a boycott, with many referring to the sign as racist or bigoted:
When did speaking several languages become a reportable offense? Seriously @dunkindonuts ?!— palabranyc (@palabra_nyc) June 18, 2018
@dunkindonuts have you heard about the racist posting at YOUR establishment in Baltimore, MD on 41st street? How are you handling this?— Catherine (@Catherneva) June 18, 2018
Wow!! I wonder why that policy would be scrutinized. Seriously @dunkindonuts why not just go full blown racist— VetGamerRun (@gamer_vet) June 18, 2018
@dunkindonuts: The employees at this location communicate very well with the customers, oftentimes remembering their regular orders & names of their children. If they need 2 communicate w/each other in their first language,why can’t they? Maybe its the GM that needs correction?— READY Initiative (@MyReadyGuide) June 18, 2018
Hostility toward non-English speakers in restaurants is certainly nothing new, though it usually seems to come from customers: Last month at a Fresh Kitchen in New York City, a customer was captured on film screaming at Spanish-speaking staffers to “speak English” and threatening to call Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. In 2015, an Applebee’s customer was arrested after assaulting a fellow diner for speaking Swahili.
While English is the most commonly spoken language in the U.S., the country does not in fact have any “official” language — and the notion of a manager asking customers to snitch on employees in exchange for free food certainly takes things to a whole new level.