November 18 2004, 6:42 AM
According to a complaint recently filed in federal court, the Family Dollar store on East Colfax Ave. hired several predominantly Spanish-speaking employees of Mexican and Salvadorean descent, disciplined them for speaking Spanish on the job, and then fired them and replaced them with English-speaking white employees. Federal law prohibits discrmination based on language in the workplace, including English-only rules unless the employer can prove a business necessity or safety reason. It's hard to see the necessity in the case of Family Dollar, a dollar store catering primarily to Latinos. Many Latinos and others view English-only rules as part of a campaign to destroy the Spanish language that has been going on since the first English speaking settlers reached the Southwest. The point being to send a message to all that Latinos are an unwanted minority group. Hence all the fearmongering about a "Hispanic Quebec" -- a concept that ignores the reality that most Spanish speakers in this country want to speak fluent English as well. Spanish has been spoken in this part of the country for centuries. You might think that after 150 years of English and Spanish speakers living side by side in Colorado, people would no longer think it a problem that some choose to converse at work in the language they are more comfortable speaking.