Hialeah Taco Bell employee fired after refusing service to woman who didn’t speak Spanish

by learn a language journalist

A social media firestorm ensued shortly after a woman posted a Facebook video where a Hialeah Taco Bell employee denied her service because she could not speak Spanish.

Despite a language barrier, Alexandria Montgomery and the Taco Bell employee who identified herself as “Luisa” engaged for several minutes at the drive-through regarding the failed food order.

The employee — who was ultimately fired — slammed the window in Montgomery’s face and threatened to call the police. Montgomery, who is black, called the employee racist.

“I actually felt like I wasn’t wanted there,” Montgomery told a local TV station. “Like, you don’t speak Spanish so I’m not going to serve you.”

At one point during the exchange, the Taco Bell employee told Montgomery in Spanish “This is Hialeah, I’m sorry.”

Hialeah, located in Miami-Dade County, boasts one of the largest Hispanic populations in the United States. It is the sixth largest city in Florida and 89 percent of residents consider Spanish as their first or second language, according to the Miami Herald.

Taco Bell’s corporate headquarters offered Montgomery a $100 gift card for her troubles. But Montgomery said the gift card would not give her justice for her quesadilla.

“I understand everyone in Hialeah doesn’t speak English and that’s fine, but if she was willing to work with me I think the outcome would have been different,” she said.

The story gained national traction after it was picked up by the Washington Post, Drudge Report and Fox News host Laura Ingraham tweeted the story — where the conversation dovetailed among commentators about whether or not English is the official language in America.

While most of the online reaction affirmed Montgomery’s position, some commentators targeted her with racist comments on Facebook.

The original Facebook post attracted close to 3,000 comments.

Several users who identified themselves as Hispanic panned the Taco Bell employee as an embarrassment to their community.

One comment from a user named Elda Yanez said it was a good thing the event was captured on video.

“Yes, Luisa knows English she didn’t want to take your order because she is racist. English is America’s Language and we, the Spanish people, must learn your language once we decide to live in this country. I am more than happy that her contract was canceled. She must learn how to treat human beings no matter skin color. She clearly stated: “I understand but I don’t want.”

But all did not agree with Montgomery’s handling of the situation or her labeling it as a racist experience.

“Racist???? She called you “my darling” and “dear” all the time. The manager is the one responsible for not having a bilingual staff in the store. Most immigrants come to this country without knowledge of the language. This lady was working late at Taco Bell and couldn’t find any way to communicate with you. Once again, it’s the manager’s fault,” said a user named Carlos Alvarez Dieguez.

Shannon Green is a member of our community conversations team. You can contact her at sgreen@orlandosentinel.com or follow her on twitter at @iamshannongreen.

This content was originally published here.

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