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article imageEnglish-Only Policy Gets Bookstore in Hot Water

By Martin Laine     Jan 24, 2010 in Politics
An English-only policy at the Atticus Bookstore and Cafe, a landmark establishment on the outskirts of the Yale University campus, has brought harsh criticism for the management and at least one worker has been fired as a result of the policy.
“Here we speak English: effective immediately the official and only language spoken on the floor and behind the counter is English. Spanish is allowed in the prep area, the dishwasher area and the lower level. Let’s make our customers feel welcome and comfortable,” read the notice posted in the store and signed by the manager, Jean Recapet, according to a story in the Hartford Courant.
"English is the primary language of this business," said Recapet in an interview Friday.
A protest is planned in front of the store at noon today.
Owner Charles Negaro told the Courant that the policy has been misrepresented in the media, and that he and his management team are reviewing the policy.
“If these news reports have offended anyone, I am sorry,” Negaro said. “Atticus managers and staff are reviewing our policy of appropriate language usage to determine how we can avoid misrepresentations of this kind in the future.”
The policy came as a surprise to many in New Haven, which has received attention in recent years for welcoming all immigrants – even those in the country illegally. And the Atticus Bookstore in particular has distinguished itself, supporting many immigrant organizations and programs, and offering English-language courses for its employees.
“A lot of people are shocked that Atticus is doing this,” said Deborah Malatesta, a spokeswoman for the New Haven Workers Association. The policy became public after two angry workers contacted the organization.
More about Atticus bookstore, Yale university, English-only
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