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When English-Speaking staff resent Spanish chatter

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in Human Resources

Q. We have a collegial atmosphere in our small factory. But several of our production line workers who don’t speak Spanish are complaining that bilingual employees chat among themselves in Spanish, leaving the others out of the loop. Everyone speaks English when talking about work, so it’s not a safety issue. Still, the non-Spanish speakers resent the Spanish chatter and wonder if they’re being talked about. What can we do? — L.C, Illinois

A. I suggest that you do nothing. It’s just too bad if the non-Spanish speakers feel left out. There is an abundance of case law that would work against you if you were to require that the only language spoken in your facility is English.

You can require that all work-related matters be discussed in English, but you would cross the line if you imposed the same requirement for nonwork-related chitchat.

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