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California cook files complaint saying she was fired for speaking Spanish
A California woman filed a complaint this week that said she was fired from her job as a line cook because she spoke Spanish to her coworker.
Francisca Pérez told NBC News in a report published on Thursday that she was fired from her job at a high-end restaurant called Osterio near Sacramento last May because the owner, Leonardo Fasulo, caught her exchanging several words in Spanish with a waitress.
"I felt humiliated," Pérez told the news agency. "I felt I was not worth anything in this country."
Pérez said the owner yelled at both her and her coworker and told them that they shouldn't be speaking Spanish while at work.
In a letter that her Pérez's coworker, who was born in the United States, wrote in support of her, Fasula was quoted as telling Pérez: "You didn't travel thousands of miles away from your country to not speak the language."
Pérez told the publication that she confronted the owner after the incident and accused him of discriminating against Mexicans after the incident.
She said Fasula, who was reportedly born in Argentina but was later raised in Italy, grew angry during the confrontation and told her: "This is America. We speak English here."
Pérez also said her son was present during the confrontation and cried over the ordeal, telling her: "I don't know if he was saying that to you or to me."
After losing her job, The Center for Workers' Rights filed a complaint on Pérez's behalf, which reportedly stated that she lost her job for solely speaking Spanish.
Daniela Urban, an attorney representing Pérez, told NBC News that the organization "had taken time to talk to the employer to see if they were interested in resolving before we filed anything. They were not."
"She watched his kids grow up in the restaurant. It was hard for her not to work there anymore and have this happen after so many years of dedicated service," Urban added.
Pérez said her son is happy she is filing the complaint because he doesn't want anyone else to go through the same ordeal.
"My son is happy I'm doing all of this because he hopes it doesn't happen to anyone else," Pérez told NBC News.