Preferring Spanish speaker doesn’t amount to bias

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Some jobs require not just bilingual ability, but fluency in a particular language other than English. Hiring for that specific skill isn’t discrimination.

Recent case: Hamida worked as a social worker for the Illinois Depart­­ment of Human Services. When budget cuts required layoffs, Hamida was among those who lost their jobs.

She sued, alleging that she had been passed over for a job that re­­quired foreign language proficiency, and that she spoke two foreign languages, including Farsi and Darai.

The department explained it se­­lected a less-senior social worker who speaks Spanish because it needed a fluent speaker of Spanish, not just any language.

The court threw out the case, citing the irrational argument Hamida put forth—essentially that any second language was good enough for the bilingual position. (Naficy v. Illinois Department of Human Services, No. 11-2144, 7th Cir., 2012)

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