Six California employees have recently filed a lawsuit against their employer after they claimed that they were being discriminated against for speaking Spanish. A news report about the filing stated that the employer had an “English-only” policy that the employees believed violated their rights under California law.
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing Act states that employers cannot prohibit the use of any languages unless the use of a certain language is a business necessity. The lawsuit filed by the employees noted that the employer’s statement noted that their policy was based off the fact that English is the state’s official language. As such, the employer required employees to speak English unless the clients had other language needs.
The employees claimed that their jobs did not require them to directly interact with any clients. As a result of being unable to speak in their native languages to each other, the employees claimed that they felt intimidated and bullied as their supervisors would constantly be listening in on their conversations to ensure they were speaking English. They stated in the lawsuit that if they were caught speaking Spanish, they received disciplinary notes.
An employee who is facing workplace discrimination due to their language or national origin may have the grounds to file a discrimination claim. In order to be successful, the employees will likely have to demonstrate that they were being treated unfairly due to their language or culture, that they could meet the requirements of the job or that they were being retaliated against. An employment law attorney might provide assistance to those finding themselves in this type of situation.
Source: Inquisitir, “Spanish-Speaking Employees Are Suing Their Employer For Unusual ‘Discrimination’, July 5, 2015