Thank Whole Foods for Clarifying its Employee Language Use Policy

Target: Walter Robb, Co-CEO Whole Foods

Goal: Thank Whole Foods for addressing concerns about their employee language policy

Organic grocery chain Whole Foods has recently been under fire for its employee language use policy. The former policy stated that all “English-speaking workers must speak English to customers and to other employees while on the clock, unless the customer speaks another language.” Two employees have faced a one-day suspension with pay for complaining about the policy. Their suspension caused an uproar prompting the company to reconsider their language policy.

Co-CEO Walter Robb addressed the issue in a blog post, admitting that the policy did not reflect the company’s views. Robb wrote, “First, we sincerely apologize that a section of our handbook regarding Team Member interactions in the workplace was not clearly written, and for any misunderstandings or offense it has created. Its intention was to foster inclusion, not exclusion.”

The company has changed its employee language use policy, using words that they believe are more true to the company’s views. Now employees who speak English are asked to speak to customers in the English language, unless otherwise requested by the customer. The policy goes on to say, “make sure you are sensitive to others who may want to join your conversation or ask you a question. If needed, switch to a common language to be inclusive and respectful.” Employees who are not fluent in English are asked to request help with translation from a manager.

Thank Whole Foods for promptly addressing the flaws in their employee language use policy, and for being accommodating to all people, making shopping and employment experiences positive despite any language barriers that may exist.


Dear Walter Robb,

Thank you for taking the appropriate action in response to the recent suspension of two of your employees for complaining about the company’s employee language use policy. The former policy was easily misunderstood, and much less thoughtfully created. Thank you for your willingness to reconsider the wording of this policy, replacing it with a thoughtfully written policy that better reflects the views of your company.

Our country is full of multicultural diversity, and it is important for companies like Whole Foods to be inclusive and welcoming to all. This holds true not only for customers but for employees as well. Thank you for making a commitment to being inclusive and accommodating, and for setting a positive example for other companies to follow.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Broken Sphere via Wikimedia Commons

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