Auckland cafe slammed for 'racist' sign telling employees to 'speak English'

A cafe in Auckland has been slammed for a "racist" sign telling employees they must speak English "at all times".

"Out of respect for your colleagues, English is to be spoken at all times," said the sign at Mt Eden's Circus Circus Cafe, a photo of which was posted to Twitter on Tuesday.

Newshub has contacted the cafe for comment. Nixon Shrhan, the cafe's general manager, told the Daily Mail the idea of everyone speaking the same language was to "communicate better".

"Everyone is from different countries and ethnicities, the reason is to know what everyone is saying," Shrhan said.

But the photo of the sign has gained backlash on social media with some saying they'll no longer attend the cafe.

"I had genuinely arranged to meet friends for coffee here today. We're going to cross the road to Frasers, after I tell them why," one person wrote on Twitter.

"Just stop it @circus_cafe it's racist to your staff and customers," another said.

The Human Rights Commission was also approached for comment. A spokesman referred Newshub to the "use of language in the workplace" section on its website.

It is an "internationally recognised human right" to use one's language in the workplace, the commission says.

"Under the Human Rights Act, it is unlawful for an employer to treat an employee less favourably because of their ethnicity or national origin.

"Someone's first language is usually related to their ethnicity so if an employer tries to stop someone from using their first language, that may be discrimination.

"It would be hard for an employer to justify a total 'English only' policy when the reason for that was to create 'workplace harmony' or because it was part of 'company culture'."