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When and how you can use ‘English-Only’ rules in the workplace

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

by Amy G. McAndrew, Pepper Hamilton LLP

Philadelphia landmark Geno’s Steaks made headlines when it posted a sign that reads, “This is America. When ordering, please speak English.” The sign received national media attention and caught the eye of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, which filed a complaint against Geno’s alleging discrimination. The commission found probable cause to believe that the sign was discriminatory because it could make some customers feel unwelcomed.

Although the Geno’s case deals with an attempt to apply an “English-only” rule to customers, it highlights a growing issue in U.S. workplaces.

According to the Census Bureau, the number of U.S. residents who are defined as “limited English proficient” has more than doubled since 1980—from 10.2 million to 21.3 million. In 1980, less than one in 20 Americans struggled with English. Now, nearly one in 12 does. As the number of immigrants i...(register to read more)

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