Can we have an English-only rule? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Can we have an English-only rule?

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Q. Is it OK for our company to prohibit employees from speaking in languages other than English in front of our customers?

Generally, no. Such a rule could lead to a finding of national-origin discrimination. Language is treated as a proxy for national origin. It is against Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to have a rule that is applicable at all times prohibiting employees from speaking a language other than English.

Even a non-English rule applicable only at certain times and otherwise reasonably limited is permissible only for legitimate business reasons. Customer preference is not accepted as the kind of reason that would justify a rule against speaking another language.

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