Issaquah-based Costco and five other U.S. companies are filing a lawsuit against the government of Quebec, Canada, which is trying to force them to operate their stores in that province in French.

The New York Times reports that Quebec's stringent language laws, passed in 1977, require retailers to serve customers and post signs in French. The agency required to enforce the law has pretty much let it slide, until now, and has threatened fines and leg

Costco, Walmart, Best Buy, Guess, and Gap are suing the Quebec government. The change in policy also affects many Canadian retailers, including Canadian Tire.

A spokesperson for the province's Office of French Language said the law also pertains to other languages, not just English.

About 95 percent of Quebec s residents speak French as their first or second language, according to the Canada FAQ website.

The Quebec Superior Court will assess the legality of the policy change.

Story compiled by KING5's Elizabeth Wiley and Travis Pittman

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