At least 80 percent of the Leon’s Frozen Custard employees in Milwaukee are Latinos.
By H. Nelson Goodson
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.
May 20, 2016
Milwaukee, WI – On Friday, Ron Schneider, the owner of Leon’s Frozen Custard at 3131 S. 27th St. in Milwaukee cancelled a meeting with LULAC of Wisconsin to discuss work related policies over an English only work place policy at the business. Apparently, Schneider had a strict English only work policy at the business, which didn’t allow Spanish speaking employees from speaking their native language between each other and to Spanish speaking customers. Since a Spanish speaking customer first exposed the English only policy in social media, it has gone viral and has gained national attention.
Schneider on Thursday rescinded his English only policy and is now allowing his bilingual employees to speak Spanish to each other and to customers as well when a bilingual worker is taking orders. Employees had to take orders in English and only respond in English to customers, according to a customer.
Schneider in an interview with WISN News admitted, “the rule just been that we speak English and if everyone speaks English we can all communicate…if anyone wants to call me racist…, let’s go settle it the old fashion American way in the alley.” To Schneider, it was a business decision and his preference for employees to speak English only, according to WISN News.
In an exclusive video interview released by Robert Miranda, the Spanish Journal Editor to Hispanic News Network U.S.A., he asked Schneider to explain his modified rule regarding English only rule. Schneider responded that employees can now speak Spanish and accommodate customers anyway they can.
Cheryl Arellano in Facebook post directed a comment to Schneider, “…I feel this is a very discriminatory rule, and I don’t believe it is lawful either. I will NOT be taking my family to your business anymore. We have been loyal customers for 40+ years, but I do NOT do business with ANYONE that discriminates against anyone for their race, ethnicity or sexual orientation until you CORRECT this issue…”
FOX 6 News reported according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, English-only rules are generally considered a violation of labor law — adding they “should be limited to the circumstances in which it is needed for the employer to operate safely and efficiently.”
A female customer told HNNUSA, that one time when Schneider was serving people, a Spanish speaking man asked for some custard ice cream in broken English, Schneider told to him to step aside while he served the White clientele first. The Latina woman stepped in and confronted Schneider about the man who asked for service and he got mad, according to the customer.
Hispanic News Network U.S.A. (HNNUSA) learned on Friday that at least 80 percent of Schneider’s employees are Latinos and one of the managers has worked at Leon’s for 14 years is part Latina.
LULAC of Wisconsin had a meeting scheduled with Schneider on Friday to discuss work related policies including an allegation that he wouldn’t allow his employees to speak Spanish. But instead Schneider cancelled the meeting to allow more time to dicuss the issue with his attorney. LULAC members were getting ready to file a request for the U.S. EEOC to investigate Leon’s work related policies.
Representatives from the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of Wisconsin released the following statement, the “Ownership informed LULAC of Wisconsin it was canceling the meeting. The reason stated for the cancellation was the need to have more time to confer with counsel.”
Dr. Arturo Martinez, the State Director for LULAC also stated,
“We are disappointed today’s meeting with Leon’s Frozen Custard Ownership was cancelled. LULAC of Wisconsin has been working in good faith trying to resolve this issue. LULAC of Wisconsin believes that strong communities are the result of mutual respect between people in the community and those who conduct business in the community. As we have stated from the beginning, it is important for Mr. Schneider to review his personnel policies with counsel, to ensure they are in compliance with EEOC guidance and civil rights law. LULAC of Wisconsin remains committed to working towards an amicable resolution. This being said, the longer this situation continues unresolved, the more difficult it will inevitably become to find an amicable resolution.”
Schneider is no longer granting interviews with the media and will be releasing a news release within days, according to employees who didn’t want to be named.
Hispanic activists and community members have planned a protest and rally around 3:00 p.m. in front of Leon’s on Saturday. On Friday afternoon at least 20 people with signs showed up to protest peacefully at Leon’s.
Nationally, Spanish is the second most popular language spoken other than English in the U.S. Puerto Rico, a Common Wealth of the U.S. use Spanish as their native language under the Jones Act.
Last Summer, Latinos became the largest minority population in Wisconsin surpassing the Afro-American population residing in the state.
Exclusive video interview between Ron Schneider, owner of Leon’s Frozen Custard and Robert Miranda, the Spanish Journal Editor https://youtu.be/WvjEaWw-jIs
Update: Pat Dorantes, who is White and works at Leon’s Frozen Custard in Milwaukee for 20 years posted a comment and I responded on WISN News Facebook posting about Leon’s.
Tony Baez, former CEO and Executive Director for the Council for the Spanish Speaking posted a comment on Facebook about racism and the Leon’s Frozen Custard in the Darryl Morin, a business owner and a former LULAC Midwest Vice-president Facebook account on Sunday. Baez posted, “Persons like Trump and Mr. Schneider have short memories and are extremely ignorant, and sadly, yes, racist… even though they will not admit it. The language we speak is historically, socially and culturally interwined with who we are. Scholars have been saying this for centuries; it is a given fact. Only those full of hate for others will use language, and the even greater stupidity of assimilation, as a justification to hate and discriminate! We must not let the ignorance to prevail -specially among us- in this society in which we live and which we have help evolve. Ignorance and hate must be erradicated if we are to ever have peace and good will! America and the World are ready, in spite of sporadic shows of hate and discrimination, for diversity and multilingualism!”