In a recent California case involving clothing retailer Forever 21, it was determined that state civil rights laws were violated when a new ‘English only’ policy was enforced. Employees were not allowed to speak Spanish to each other or the customers, even on work breaks. California is rich in ethnic diversity, and laws are in place so that practices like these may not be enacted. Read more below to make sure your native language is being protected by your employer.
How to Know if You Are a Victim of Language Discrimination:
- Know the law: Under the Civil rights Act of 1964, no one can be discriminated against because of their national origin. Native language is one of the main factors protected under origin. Employees unable to use their native language are often limited in employment opportunities, having their communication abilities stifled.
- Is it necessary for business? Certain part-time bans on the foreign language are legal, for example, a news firm only reaching an English speaking audience can require that reporters only report in English. It would become unnecessary when employees are limited from using native languages when they are not reporting.
- Are employees not participating being punished? In some cases, including the one mentioned above, employees had their hours cut or were fired if they did not participate in the English only rule. Know that this is a red flag and legal action may be taken.
Language discrimination can cause isolation and create an inhibitory environment for employees and customers of different ethnic backgrounds. It is hurtful and bad for business. The Los Angeles employment law attorneys at Kesluk, Silverstein, Jacob & Morrison, P.C. have dedicated their lives to ensuring every employee is treated fairly in the workplace.