How can language restrictions be a form of discrimination?
While not every immigrant is capable of speaking perfect English, it should not be a requirement to find work and make a living in Colorado. It is true that some jobs require the proficient use of the English language, but many do not. If you feel your employer is unfairly burdening you or someone you know with onerous English requirements, you may have a case of national origin discrimination.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) identifies a number of ways an employer may engage in national origin discrimination by imposing unnecessary linguistic requirements. Here is a look at three common restrictions that are forbidden by federal law.
First, some employers insist that their workers only speak English in the workplace as a condition of employment. The EEOC states that employers may do this only if the workplace needs it for safety and efficiency on the job, or to run the business efficiently. An employer also has to offer notice of rules that require only English to be spoken at work.
Some employers go farther than just demanding only English be spoken. They insist that employees be able to speak English fluently. This means an employer will want their workers to speak English clearly with no hesitancy in speech, choose the right words and have a varied vocabulary. The EEOC cautions that employers can only require fluent English or any language fluency if it is essential for work performance.
Some immigrants continue to speak with the accent of their origin country. Having a thick accent should not be a problem when finding employment. The EEOC mandates that workplaces cannot impose bans on workers with foreign accents. The only exception involves jobs that require clear and effective verbal communication. If the accent of a person makes it hard to convey information, an employer can limit applicants to non-accented workers.
Knowing these facts can help you understand if you are being wronged by an employer. A professional attorney can alert you to laws that are being violated and options available to you under law. Discrimination takes many different forms, so do not read this information as legal advice for your situation.
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Ted Hess & Associates, LLC, is located in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. We provide immigration services to those who live or work between Silverthrone/Breckenridge and Grad Junction and Between Grand Junction and Montrose.