A well-known Las Vegas restaurant, Jamms Breakfast and Lunch Diner, is getting lambasted by Telemundo for a new work rule that simply prohibits its employees from speaking Spanish in front of customers who don’t speak Spanish.
In response to what probably the vast majority of Americans would consider an entirely reasonable customer service language policy, Telemundo host María Celeste Arrarás expressed her indignation that the rule was implemented by a Latino owner no less.
In a report on her afternoon show Al Rojo Vivo, Arrarás was also quick to completely mischaracterize the rule as one that impedes what language customers can use while at the restaurant, in addition to calling on Jamms’ co-owner Antonio Gamboa to change the rule.
MARÍA CELESTE ARRARÁS, HOST, AL ROJO VIVO, TELEMUNDO: Let's hope the owner of the restaurant reconsiders his position. Many Latino customers patronize his establishment, and have all the right in the world to communicate with the employees in Spanish, or in whatever language they desire to.
Both Arrarás’s introduction to the report on the controversy, as well as her concluding commentary, were actually belied by facts within the report itself. As Jamms’ co-owner Antonio Gamboa himself told Telemundo reporter Michelle Rodríguez, the restaurant’s new language policy was instituted only after a non-Spanish speaking customer at the restaurant mistakenly believed he was being verbally disparaged by a Jamms’ employee in Spanish.
As Gamboa explained, contrary to the customer’s assumption, the employees were not disparaging the customer, but as a result management decided to make an employee language policy change in order to avoid such situations in the future. Gamboa specifically tells Telemundo that “We made the decision, and told them not to speak Spanish when they have customers in front of them who do not speak Spanish.”
In reality, the restaurant’s rule was born not out of an ethos of discrimination, but one of inclusion: to be more inclusive, welcoming, and mindful of all of the restaurant’s customer base. However, Arrarás & Co. shape-shifted the facts of the matter in order to present it as some kind of monstrous anti-Hispanic, Spanish speaking ban for everyone.
In comments to Rodríguez, another restaurant employee also testified to experiencing no discrimination in the establishment, in which 75% of the employees are Latino. In addition, the reporter noted Jamms also has a commendable track record as a sponsor of cultural events in the area’s Hispanic community.
As indicated, at the end of the segment Arrarás calls on the restaurant owner to change the rule and declares that Hispanics “have all the right in the world to communicate with the employees in Spanish or in whatever language they desire to.” She is oblivious to the fact that the rule is only enforceable on the employees, as in any other business. Nowhere in the wording does the rule ban customers from speaking whatever language they please.
The episode is illustrative of the kind of divisive, erroneous and irresponsible racial grievance-based reporting that appears way too often in the national Hispanic media. When the perpetrator of the alleged anti-Hispanic act is Latino, as in this case, the “race traitor” angle is also added for good measure.
Below is the complete transcript of the above-referenced report, as aired during the May 30, 2018 edition of Telemundo’s Al Rojo Vivo, con María Celeste Arrarás.
MARIA CELESTE ARRARÁS, HOST, AL ROJO VIVO, TELEMUNDO: A restaurant in Las Vegas is making headlines after placing a sign forbidding its employees to speak Spanish in front of customers. And listen to this: the owner is Latino. Michelle Rodríguez has the controversy, and the owner's comments.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE CLIENT: This restaurant is very close to my house. We have eaten several times, but this will be the last.
MICHELLE RODRÍGUEZ, REPORTER, TELEMUNDO: This announcement, which spread like a wildfire on social media, is causing outrage among the Hispanic community. It is a note in English that tells the employees of a restaurant that they cannot speak Spanish while they are around customers. It was placed in the employee break room of the Jamms Restaurant, near Charleston and Rainbow.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE CLIENT: It is definitely very sad because we continue promoting racism, discrimination, class differences and everything, and I think we are free to speak what we want to speak.
RODRIGUEZ: Nevertheless, one of the owners of this restaurant, who by the way is a Hispanic man, defends the policy, assuring that it is so that customers who do not speak Spanish do not feel isolated or insulted.
ANTONIO GAMBOA, CO-OWNER, JAMMS RESTAURANT: What happened was that there was a customer at the bar and one of our employees was speaking Spanish with another employee. The customer felt bad, like offended, thinking that they were talking about him. The employees were never talking about the customer, they were simply just talking amongst themselves. We made the decision, and told them not to speak Spanish when they have customers in front of them who do not speak Spanish.
RODRÍGUEZ: To carry out the order, they put a sign on a wall in the back of the restaurant. It is believed that it was an employee who posted it on social media, which has affected the restaurant.
MARCO GAMBOA, EMPLOYEE, JAMMS RESTAURANT: And I think it is a misunderstanding. That someone who wanted to play a joke, or I don’t know. With the experience I have working in this place, I have never seen or felt discriminated against.
RODRÍGUEZ: Additionally, this restaurant has been a sponsor of various Hispanic events.
ARRARÁS: Well, let's hope the owner of the restaurant reconsiders his position. Many Latino customers patronize his establishment, and have all the right in the world to communicate with the employees in Spanish, or in whatever language they desire to.