The immigrant population in the United States is increasing enormously, and for many immigrants, English is not their first language. A reaction to the growing cultural and linguistic diversity in the workplace is the emergence of the rules that ask that you only speak English in the work hours. Such rules are not favored by the Commission for Equal Employment Opportunities (EEOC), the federal agency that enforces federal non-discrimination laws in the workplace. The judicial decisions in the matter have flowed in different directions, making it more difficult for employees and for employers to understand the current state of the law.
The Rules of the Language as a Form of Discrimination
The problem with the rules of English as the only language is that they are difficult to distinguish from the discriminatory acts against individuals whose background does not include English. The civil rights laws, particularly Title VII of the Decree for the Civil Rights of 1964, prohibiting employment discrimination based on the origin or the nationality of the individual. Therefore, an employer can fall into such discrimination by banning all languages other than English, and to punish any employee who violates the prohibition. This is because there is a big chance that the violators of this rule are immigrants.
The EEOC and The Rules of English As the sole Language
To combat discrimination on the basis of origin and nationality which can arise due to the rule of English as the only language, the EEOC adopted regulations under Title VII of the Decree for the Civil Rights of 1964. These regulations recognize that the primary language of an individual is often an essential feature of the origin or the nationality.
These regulations are in charge of the rules about English as the only language in the workplace. To avoid that an employee to speak the language with which they feel most comfortable with, the employer puts him at a disadvantage with respect to employment opportunities. Employers also can create an atmosphere of isolation, inferiority, and intimidation that rise to the discrimination in the work environment. Consequently, it is assumed that the rules that impose English as the sole language of permanent, violate Title VII by limiting the opportunities of employment and create a discriminatory climate based on the nationality and the origin.
A rule which states that English must be spoken only at certain times is permissible if the employer can demonstrate the need in your company of that standard. An example can be a post in the paid for speaking, as is the case of a programmer of music in a radio station, where the employer specifically intended to reach the audience in the English-speaking. The regulations of the EEOC also require that an employer notify its employees before implementing a policy on the strict use of English in connection with a business necessity. If the employer fails to do so and dismisses an employee for violating the rule, the Commission will consider the actions of the employer as evidence of employment discrimination based on origin and nationality.
Court Decisions and State Law
The regulations of the EEOC disapprove of the rules that impose English as the sole language. In response, a number of courts in favour of these regulations have been ruled in favor of the plaintiffs who were fired for violating such rules. However, other courts have established that the regulations of the EEOC contradict the intentions of Congress, because Congress never intended to address the issue of the rules on the English as the only language in the Title VII (the basis for the regulations of the EEOC).Therefore, these courts have rejected the claims of the workers dismissed under the rules of the use of English as the sole language.
Like the courts, the states are divided on the matter. Some states take a stand for the use of other languages in addition to English. For example, several states have passed laws to help people who do not speak English get government benefits. Others have opted for the opposite direction, by making the English as the official language in the state and struggling against the efforts of those who seek to be more inclusive.
Legal help with the Imposition of English As the only Language
The rules that impose English as the only language created segmentation in the workplace and to prohibit the part of the workers to express their cultural identity. These rules are particularly severe, suggesting that there is something inferior or subversive in other languages and the people who speak it, and therefore, are presumed to be invalid. The rules for which English is the sole language are acceptable in limited circumstances, provided that they are not a pretext for discrimination based on national origin or nationality. If you have questions about the rules of language in their work, or if you believe that you or a loved one have suffered employment discrimination, contact an attorney in employment law to discuss your situation and protect your legal rights.