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English-Only Policies

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in Human Resources

If you’re thinking of establishing an English-only policy for your workplace, be aware that you risk incurring the wrath of the EEOC. The agency is strongly opposed to English-only rules and will prosecute employers that commit this type of national-origin discrimination.

Although no laws exist banning English-only workplace rules, such requirements are being challenged under Title VII, which bars national-origin discrimination in employment. Your English-only policy must be justified by “business necessity,” which usually revolves around safety and efficiency issues. The compliance manual used by the EEOC cites these right and wrong examples:

  • Probably permissible: All workers on an oil rig are required to speak English because they need to communicate quickly and respond to emergencies.
  • Probably illegal: A retailer’s policy requires English at all times during working hours because its customers object to empl...(register to read more)

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