Discrimination Claims Spur Demands for Bilingual Staff at Pilsen Post Office

The U.S. Postal Service issued a statement with an apology "to any customer who may have had a negative customer experience"

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Local Latino leaders are calling on the U.S. Postal Service to hire bilingual employees at a post office in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood after a social media post alleged non-English speakers were being turned away.

Evelyn Gonzalez wrote in a Facebook post last week that she witnessed a post office clerk turn away several Spanish-speaking customers at the Cesar Chavez Post Office in the 1800 block of South Ashland Avenue. Gonzalez said in the post that the clerk told the customers she wasn't able to help them because she didn't speak Spanish.

Gonzalez helped three people in line, she said, and when she challenged the clerk for refusing to help an older woman who also spoke Spanish, Gonzalez said the clerk threatened to call the police.

Community leaders gathered Monday afternoon to question why USPS doesn't employ bilingual employees in a neighborhood where a majority of residents speak Spanish.

“It is in the best interest of the Chicago Post Office, for that matter any business to have bilingual bi-cultural employees to service the Latino Community," community organizers said in a statement. "It’s not only insulting discriminating behavior but it’s bad business.

In a statement, USPS said it "expects all of our employees to treat each other and our customers with dignity and respect."

"We were recently made aware of an incident at our Cesar Chavez Post Office last week which involved one of our employees denying service to some of our Spanish speaking customers," USPS spokesman Tim Norman said in a statement. "We want to sincerely apologize to any and all our valued customers who were affected by these actions and denied service. This reported incident is being fully investigated and the Postal Service will take all appropriate action necessary to improve service to our valued customers."

The statement continued to say: "The Postal Service expects all of our employees to treat each other and our customers with dignity and respect and we will work to identify any concerns and make corrections to better serve our customers."

U.S. Rep. Jesus "Chuy'' Garcia issued a statement Monday afternoon requesting an "immediate and thorough review" of reports into the incident.

“As an immigrant and representative of a district home to multiethnic and multilingual communities, I take these allegations very seriously," Garcia said in a news release." I have contacted the United States Postal Service to ask how they intend to address the reports of discrimination. Everyone who enters a post office deserves fair and respectful service."

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