McDonald's pulls U-turn, now letting employees speak te reo Māori

McDonald's is directing all of its 167 stores across the country to revise their language policy after a staff member was told they couldn't speak te reo Māori at work.

Until now, employees were only allowed to speak English to their co-workers - but thanks to a Hamilton woman, our other two official languages can now be used.

Janine Eru-Taueki loves her language, and being told she couldn't speak Te Reo at work was heartbreaking.

"The Māori language is my world," she told Newshub. "This is Māori Language Week, but for us speaking Māori is the norm. I speak Māori all the time."

Ms Eru-Taueki says she was told customers had complained, and that she must only speak English because it could make people feel comfortable.

"I don't agree, because Māori is an official language of this country," she says.

"Some of the customers come up and ask if they can make their order in Māori. I was really sad the other night because I couldn't speak to them in Māori myself."

A poster in the staff areas outlines McDonald's policy, reading: "We can speak different languages, however, on the floor, English is our McLanguage."

Simon Kenny from McDonald's says the Human Rights Commission advised it to have a single-language policy.

"The advice of using a common language makes a lot of sense in terms of an inclusive work place and people feeling like they're not discriminated against, so I can understand the rationale behind it."

The Human Rights Commission told Newshub in some specific circumstances a common language policy may be appropriate, such as for health and safety reasons.

However it said customer service would not appear to be a valid reason.

McDonald's says it was a co-worker, not a customer, that complained about Ms Eru-Taueki - but says on reflection it got it wrong.

The fast food giant plans to make an apology on Thursday, and has changed its policy to give its 9000 staff more McLanguages - including English, Te Reo and New Zealand Sign Language.

The Māori Language Commission says every New Zealander has the right to speak Te Reo at work

"It's not acceptable in this country," NAME told Newshub.

"It's 2018, last time I checked - the last time I looked it's not 1818."

Thanks to one woman speaking out, a 'kia ora' could be served up with kai next time you're at McDonald's.