Monday, March 21, 2011

Are English-only policies a business necessity?
Hunton & Williams LLP
March 10 2011

During the past 50 years, the American workforce has changed drastically. One of the most noticeable changes has been the absorption of immigrants into the workforce who do not speak English as their first language.
In response to the increased linguistic diversity of the workforce, many employers have implemented policies that limit or completely prohibit their employees from speaking languages other than English while at work. These so called “English-only” polices may violate the national origin protections of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Employers that implement these policies are at risk of being sued not only by employees who feel wronged by the policy, but also by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Employers should be aware that for the past 10 years the EEOC has been targeting employers that implement English-only policies. In fact, the EEOC has made clear through numerous press releases and strategic litigation efforts that combating English-only policies is a priority.

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