U.S. Workplace Rules: Speaking a Foreign Language Good, English Bad

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It seems that if you ask your employees if they can speak a foreign language, that’s OK, but requiring them to speak English is a violation of their rights and is discriminatory.

This is the result of President Obama’s crackdown on “national origin discrimination” in the workplace.

According the Judicial Watch, “The government’s new enforcement guidelines state that bilingual requirements don’t meet discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.”

In other words demanding prospective employees to have the ability to speak another language is non-discriminatory, but English-only rules at work are discriminatory because they are a restrictive language policy.

What does this mean for American employers?

It means they can now be sued by an employee if the employer demands that his or her employees speak English while at work and the lawsuits have already begun to the tune of over $550 million dollars last year.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, (EEOC) has bullied businesses into complying with these new orders and threatening to sue or actually suing those that don’t.

“One of the EEOC’s biggest cases involved a national clothing retailer that specializes in hip casual wear for youngsters and refused to change a rule banning head covers for employees. The agency sued the company for religious discrimination because it wouldn’t allow a Muslim woman to wear a hijab to work.”

In a case involving a Green Bay Wisconsin metal and plastic manufacturer sued for firing  a group of Chinese and Hispanic workers over their English skills, the courts found that “forcing employees to speak English in the U.S. violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” The Civil Rights Act protects employees from discrimination based on national origin, which includes the languages of a national origin group. The EEOC stated that foreigners have the right to speak their native language even during work hours at an American company that requires English.

Not only are the EEOC suing because of national origin discrimination, but they are winning settlements from companies who actually have the audacity to conduct “background checks” of black candidates for past criminal records. The EEOC feels that the process of a background check can have a negative impact on African Americans so they are pressuring companies to eliminate background checks altogether or face a lawsuit.

Recently a major national retailer was forced to pay $2.5 million to black job candidates that had been screened with criminal background checks.

The logic behind the new EEOC guidelines? The Obama administration explains with this statement.

“The guidelines were created because the American workforce is “increasingly ethnically diverse.” The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that enforces the nation’s workplace discrimination laws, made them public a few days ago. “The increased cultural diversity of today’s workplaces presents new and evolving issues with respect to Title VII’s protection against national origin discrimination,” the agency writes in the lengthy document. “This enforcement guidance will assist EEOC staff in their investigation of national origin discrimination charges and provide information for applicants, employees, and employers to understand their respective rights and responsibilities under Title VII.”

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