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The universal language: Good food … with Cheez Whiz, please!

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in Human Resources

A Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations panel has ruled that the English-only signs greeting customers at Geno’s Steaks, the famous South Philly cheesesteak shop, do not violate the city’s Fair Practices Ordinance.

A multicultural meltdown occurred in October 2005 when Geno’s owner, Joey Vento, posted two signs reading, “This is America: WHEN ORDERING ‘PLEASE SPEAK ENGLISH.’”

Critics argued the signs discouraged some customers from eating at the shop. In a public hearing, Vento’s attorney argued that the signs were necessary to keep the lines moving.

The commission ruled that the signs were legal because they do not say that service will be “refused, withheld or denied.”

Note: The EEOC permits English-only policies in the workplace only when founded on legitimate business needs and when applied without bias.

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