Two years ago, a group of 69 nurses filed a workplace discrimination lawsuit against the hospital they had worked at in California. The workers were all immigrants and they were all Filipino. Although some of the nurses had worked at the facility for more than 20 years, the Filipino nurses began to experience harassment and bullying after the hospital had implemented a new “language policy” in 2006. The policy banned workers from speaking any language other than English.
This week, it was announced that the California hospital has decided to settle the language discrimination lawsuit. Although the dozens of nurses who were harmed by harassment and discrimination may be relieved to finally have their case resolved, some are disappointed about the settlement. According to reports, the hospital maintains that it did nothing wrong.
Filipino nurses claimed that they were discriminated against by the hospital and other staff when the hospital implemented its language policy. The lawsuit argued that the hospital had violated workers rights by promoting a hostile work environment.
When the hospital implemented the language policy in 2006, Filipino nurses said that other workers had been asked to follow them around at the hospital so that they could be reported if they spoke a language other than English. Even during breaks or when talking to family members on the phone, the Filipino nurses were constantly told to only speak English. The nurses said that they were threatened with losing their jobs if they were caught speaking another language.
Although the hospital claims that it did not violate the rights of Filipino nurses, as part of the settlement, the hospital will be forced to improve workplace conditions by providing employees with training on workplace discrimination. The victims of harassment will receive a total of $975,000 in damages from the hospital.
For the following three years, the hospital will also be required to hire a third party to monitor the facility. The monitor will conduct reviews to make sure the hospital provides anti-discrimination and diversity training. The monitor will also make sure that the hospital follows policies and procedures to properly address any complaints of workplace discrimination.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Filipino nurses win language discrimination settlement,” Anh Do, Sept. 18, 2012
- Our firm represents clients who have been through similar situations such as those described in this blog post. Harassment and discrimination is illegal in the workplace. If you would like to learn more about employees’ rights and our practice, please visit our Los Angeles / Long Beach hostile work environment lawyers page.