Immigration reform continues to be a hot button issue, and a recent rash of lawsuits continues to fuel the debate over whether an “English-only” rule constitutes national origin discrimination. The EEOC’s position is that a “rule requiring employees to speak only English at all times in the workplace is a burdensome term and condition of employment” and presumptively “violates Title VII.” 29 C.F.R. § 1606.7(a). According to the EEOC, an “employer may have a rule requiring that employees speak only in English at certain times where the employer can show that the rule is justified by business necessity.” 29 C.F.R. § 1606.7(b). The majority of federal courts, however, have shown some tolerance of “English-only” rules. Generally, Courts will uphold an English-only rule if the employer can show a legitimate business justification for the requirement. Examples of legitimate business justifications that have been found to justify an English-only requirement are:
"White Americans, what?
Nothing better to do?
Why don't you kick yourself out?
You're an immigrant too!"
- Stemming hostility among employees.
- Fostering politeness to customers.
- Promoting communication with customers, coworkers, or supervisors who only speak English.
- Enabling employees to speak a common language to promote safety or enable cooperative work assignments.
- Facilitating a supervisor’s ability monitor the performance of an employee.
- Furthering interpersonal relations among employees.