Monday, November 19, 2007

Nancy Pelsoi and some Democrats do NOT get it

You have to read this article from the WSJ Online:

This article discusses the fact that some Democrats (Including the Hispanic Caucus and now Nancy Pelosi) want to keep allowing the EEOC to process lawsuits against American business owners who require their employees to speak English.

Over 200 such lawsuits were filed by the EEOC last year against American companies.

My wife and I own a company in Fort Wayne. It is an accounting firm.

Apparently the EEOC can sue me and my wife if we choose not to hire a potential employee because they do not speak English or if we were to fire an existing employee because they do not speak English.

This is wrong.

Our clients speak English, we speak English, and I feel that our employees should speak English.

What is America coming to?

Is there ANYONE who reads this blog who thinks that the EEOC should sue employers who require their employees to speak English?

Mike Sylvester


jon said...

I do not. However, unless English is demonstrably needed in the performance of the job one (the EEOC) can argue that discriminating against a person based upon the fact that they do not speak English is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights act of 1964, which precludes discrimination based on national origin. Once the EEOC is involved it becomes the Employer's responsibility to prove that the ability to speak English is needed and the cost to do so in court will be expensive.

There is no safe fix for this problem. If we were to make English the “official” language of the U.S. it would still not nullify Title VII. The only way companies can be safe is amend Title VII to make it possible to discriminate based on spoken language. Until that happens or appellate level court precedence is set this will be very dangerous ground for companies to walk.

Phil Marx said...

I expect that Mike will need to communicate with his own employees occasionally. If they do not understand English, then he must learn their language(s). So, if he doesn't understand someone who is asking him for a job, the fault of miscommunication is his. Pelosi is effectively ordering Mike to learn every language in the world.

This interpretation of the law does not make any sense.


Si los empleados no entiendo la lengua major de la nacion, el enor Sylvester habrias exigido aprender la(s) lengua(s) de empleados.

La ley es loco.
Vive los Libertarianos!

Tim Zank said...

Yeah, what HE said! (Phil)...

Tim Zank said...

Seriously, this is a bad bad idea. This country is going to crash and burn from political correctness. It's absurd.

gadfly said...

Mike ...

Your business is safe because the few employees that you have will never attract the EEOC fanatics.

Just remember that Indiana is a Right to Work state where non-contactual employees can be fired without "cause."

Under no reason should a reason for firing be given ... and do not say anything critical to poor performers, Our nanny state government made the rules, so abide by them.

Robert Enders said...

I read the article. The workers in question were fired not because they didn't speak English, they were fired for conversing in Spanish. I presume that they would have had to have spoken English to make it through the hiring process.

Most government and private sector jobs require a worker to speak and understand English in order to communicate with customers and coworkers. That is not the issue. The issue is, should an employer be allowed to fire a bilingual employee for using a language other than English on the job? The employer would have to make a good case for forbidding the use of lnaguages other than English. That employer would probably argue that the use of Spanish where an Anglophone customer can hear it might make the customer uncomfortable. Now the question is, does it really bother you to hear a language that you do not understand even when the speaker is not talking to you?

Tim Zank said...

Robert, I don't think we read the same article. The salvation army gave them a year to learn english, which would lead me to believe, they couldn't speak english when hired. (or when they were fired as well)

Phil Marx said...

After reading the article (Thanks for including that link, Mike.), I find the story to still be a bit ambiguous.

At one point, they refer to it as an "English-only" policy. That would indicate that the employees were prohibited from speaking in Spanish at all.

I would agree with Robert here that the burden should be on the employer to show how employees speaking in another language was harful to the business. But, these employees should certainly be able to speak English, and be willing to do so any time the job requires it.

Tim Zank said...

While the article may seem to be ambiguous to some, do you really think it got as far as the house and senate because some salvation army store manager didn't like two employee's jabbering in spanish in the break room??

Use a little common sense people.

Robert Enders said...

It has got as far as the House and Senate, allegedly for the reason that you stated.
From the article: "The EEOC claimed the store had fired two Hispanic employees for continuing to speak Spanish on the job." If what the EEOC says is true, the employees had a sufficient command of the English language but were fired anyway.

Tim Zank said...

Robert..from the article..."The EEOC claimed the store had fired two Hispanic employees for continuing to speak Spanish on the job". Do you interpret that as talking to one another, like on a break? or ON THE JOB is interpreted as in "WHILE WORKING (WAITING ON CUSTOMERS)......I guess everything is subject to interpretation....mine is, they were speaking spanish to customers, hence the managers actions....

Phil Marx said...


The difference of opinion here seems to center on the interpretation of what the article is really about. Do you see the ambiguity here? I think this was sloppy reporting.

I can't blame you for the confusion. You merely attached to a published article. But, based upon my reading of the article, I think you might have misinterpreted it in the same way that I believe Tim Zank did.

I still maintain that there is a big difference between being told you must speak English when the job requires it, and being told you must always speak English.

What do you think?

steve said...

Robert is right. Employers may use communication/reading/writing skills as a metric for whether a potential employee would be suitable for a particular job.

Employer cannot, however, force an employee to not use Spanish, or only use English.

Its a matter of discrimination towards employees, not employers.

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