Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.
- amenable / əˈmi nə bəl / (adj) – ready or willing to do or accept something
The employees are amenable to working this Saturday because they need to finish a lot of tasks.
- undermine / ˈʌn dərˌmaɪn / (v) – to cause someone or something to become less strong or effective
The judge’s harsh words undermined the contestant’s confidence.
- violate / ˈvaɪ əˌleɪt / (v) – to do something that breaks a rule or law
Citizens who violate traffic rules will be asked to pay a fine.
- hygiene / ˈhaɪ dʒin / (n) – behavior that protects or maintains health and cleanliness
He practices good hygiene every day so he won’t get sick.
- infringe / ɪnˈfrɪndʒ / (v) – to set a limit on something, such as a person’s right or freedom
The ban on social media posting infringes on people’s right to freedom of expression.
Read the text below.
Authorities in Barcelona have declared Burger King’s recent policies on workers’ appearance unconstitutional.
The regional labor inspection committee received complaints from Burger King employees through the Workers’ Commissions, Spain’s largest employee union. The employees complained about two of Burger King’s recent policies. One of the policies banned facial hair, such as beards and moustaches, among employees. On the other hand, another required wearing of ties and ribbons to male and female employees, respectively.
Prior to the implementation of Burger King’s controversial policies, the company already had rules regarding employees’ appearance. These rules required employees to come to work looking neat and polished. Although the employees were amenable to these rules, they felt that the new policies undermined their dignity and freedom of self-expression. When Burger King ignored the employees’ complaints, the union got the local labor officials involved.
In response, the committee sided with the employees, saying that the new policies violate workers’ constitutional rights. According to labor inspectors, the ban on facial hair is a violation of the right to one’s own image, which empowers individuals to choose how they physically present themselves. Additionally, the gender-specific dress code promotes discrimination and goes against the right to equal treatment.
The committee thus urged Burger King to implement policies that strike a balance between promoting good hygiene and supporting workers’ constitutional rights. One example is requiring employees to wear beard nets. This ensures safety in food preparation, and at the same time, it avoids infringing upon workers’ rights.
Currently, the committee’s ruling only applies to 46 Burger King restaurants in Barcelona where over 1,200 employees will benefit. However, the labor union is hoping for the ruling to be implemented across Spain.
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.
• Do you agree with the Barcelona authorities’ decision to declare the policies of Burger King unconstitutional? Why or why not?
• If you were part of Burger King’s management, how would you react to the authorities’ decision? Discuss.
• What are some valid complaints that employees should raise to company management? Discuss.
• How should companies respond to employee complaints? Discuss.