A Spanish worker was fined $50 and had it taken out of his paycheck when caught speaking English after telling his supervisor “Meh na speaketh da England” during a forklift incident.
38-year-old Santiago Bardem stacked a pallet of boxes so high on a rack that it hit the sprinkler system causing a massive flood. When the supervisor, Kenneth Berkley, approached Bardem about what happened the Spaniard pretended he couldn’t understand English. Berkley went to get the Spanish-speaking supervisor, Sofia Lopez, to translate. After the two supervisors walked off, Bardem turned to his co-worker, Nubrisco Drew, and effortlessly switched to English, cracking jokes, which caused Drew to laugh so uncontrollably he produced a little flood of his own with tears.
When Bardem saw the supervisors walking back, he kicked Drew while he was rolling on the floor, gripping his stomach, eyes closed, and worse of all, repeating the punchline to Bardem’s jokes. With no one else in sight, Bardem just dropped his head when the supervisors started shaking theirs.
The Nike warehouse in Memphis now has a policy in place that if two Spaniards are having a conversation and a English-speaking person comes in close proximity they must ask the person do they understand Spanish. If so, they can continue with their conversation in their native tongue. However, if not, they must have said conversation in English. The policy, called Meh Na Speaketh Da England, after Bardem’s response, states that you can be fined up to $50 for disobeying it.
Bardem and 2% of the 35% of the warehouse’s Hispanic makeup are fighting back in a subtle way by lobbying for the same policy for African-Americans, who make-up 29% of the warehouse. Spaniard employee Alejandro Vergara in response to racist comments said, “I’m tired of people looking at me like they want to fight. I’m not racist. I just want fairness. Just like people can’t understand us, we have a hard time understanding blacks. They’re the biggest ethnic here after us. I love listening to rap gibberish on the radio but not in conversations. The other day, some black guy called me bae. What is Bae? Is it like Amigo? We Hispanics are having a hard time understanding the slang. I hope bae isn’t anything bad because he invited me over to his house. I don’t want to walk into my death or anything.”
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