America doesn't run on snitching

By Mike Pomranz
Updated June 19, 2018
EC: Dunkin' Donuts Bottled Coffee Coming Next Year, Courtesy of Coca-Cola 
Credit: Photo by Bob Berg via Getty Images

Everyone likes a freebie. For instance, if Dunkin’ Donuts were offering a coupon for a free coffee and pastry, you’d probably think, Yeah, why not? Except at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Baltimore, that coupon would come with some very unfortunate not-so-fine print: To get your free food, you'd have to rat out store employees for not speaking English.

Yesterday, WBAL Baltimore News caught wind of a sign posted at a local Dunkin’ Donuts that read, “If you hear any of our staff SHOUTING in a language other than ENGLISH, please call 443-415-7775 immediately with the name of the employee to receive a coupon for FREE Coffee and a pastry. –General Manger.”

Many people who saw the sign were upset with how it singled out non-English speaking employees and encouraged customers to turn on them for the chance at some free food and beverage. WBAL said its news team called the number and reached a man who said he was formerly the general manager of that store. He reportedly admitted that it was an old sign, similar to one he had made in the past after receiving customer complaints.

Why the sign resurfaced recently isn’t entirely clear, but once word got out via Twitter and the news media, the offer quickly came down and Dunkin’ Donuts corporate was scrambling to handle damage control.

“Dunkin' Donuts and our franchisees share the goal of creating a welcoming and hospitable environment for all guests,” the company said in a statement. “The franchise owner has informed us that the sign was posted by their general manager based on her own personal judgment to ensure those standards are being met. While her intent was to address a customer service and satisfaction issue, the franchisee determined her approach was inappropriate and confirmed the sign has been removed.”

WBAL spoke with one customer who thought the sign was unwarranted on multiple levels. “They're kind and courteous and do their job,” she said. “Even if they weren't courteous, that's no reason not to speak in their native language or any language they want to.”

Another apparent customer on Twitter had a similar reaction. “The employees at this location communicate very well with the customers, oftentimes remembering their regular orders & names of their children,” she wrote. “If they need 2 communicate w/each other in their first language,why can’t they? Maybe its the GM that needs correction?”

For the record, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission explicitly states, “Rules requiring employees to speak only English in the workplace violate the law unless the employer can show that they are justified by business necessity.” Additionally, “A rule requiring employees to speak only English in the workplace at all times, including breaks and lunch time, will rarely be justified.” The EEOC doesn’t appear to have any specific thoughts addressing giving out free doughnuts to customers who help a general manager break these laws… probably because they never thought they would have to.