'English only' signs hanging in Upper West Side store

September 5, 2013 3:14:34 PM PDT
There's a lot of talk over signs hanging in a grocery store in Manhattan.

It says "English Only Zone" and is directed toward its employees.

This is by no means the first time this hotly debated issue has come up and it no doubt will be the last.

Three of the signs are inside the Jubilee store.

It's a small store that ironically sits on Freedom Place.

The English only zone flyers were put up by the manager.

"I think because they are trying to please their customers, they're probably over reacted to her oversensitivity," said Katy Reynolds, a customer.

The "her" she's referring to is another customer.

The manager, who was camera shy, tells Eyewitness News, two employees were speaking Spanish, she came to the counter, and mistakenly thought they were talking about her, became upset, and threatened to sue him.

He says he put up these signs as a reminder to workers to only speak English on the job.

The move is not going over well with some.

"What are you going to say next, this is an only white zone?" said Gus Colon, a customer.

After Eyewitness News told the manager, some customers were offended by the signs; he took all of them down.

But on Twitter, one person posted, "i love it! My ancestors had no choice but to learn english.no special trtmt then & shldnt b any now."

Another said, "I wish there were more signs just like it."

"The sign completely violates the law," said Ron Kuby, attorney.

He's referring to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Ron Kuby points out English only rules are almost always illegal except when an owner feels the move serves a legitimate business need.

"If you have customers who only speak English, you can tell these people you must speak to these people in English if you're handling hazardous material and there's complicated safety procedures," Kuby said.

Neither is the case here at jubilee.

"I don't think a sign like that has a place in New York City, we're too diverse a culture here at this point. We can all live with multiple languages and we can all figure it out," said Hank Adams, a customer.

Though many believe there should be one and have proposed legislation, the U.S. does not have an official language.