National Origin and English Language Rules | Mann & Elias
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National Origin and English Language Rules

Pursue Legal Assistance from an Ethnicity Discrimination Attorney

Each year, immigrants migrate to the United States. Right now, the pandemic has halted just how many have been able to obtain visas, relocate, and work. With this new emergence are a new set of policies that require employees to speak English. It is even enforceable when it is not their first language.

These rules have dangerous implications that can lead to a lawsuit with the help of a Los Angeles workplace lawyer. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) disapproves of it because it’s limiting “cultural and lingual diversity” at work as a form of discrimination. Depending on the nature of the job, and the company, court rulings have varied on the subject. That makes it difficult for everyone to understand what is acceptable and if it is possible to file a national origin lawsuit.

Language Rules – A Form of Discrimination

The EEOC declared that any policies forcing employees to speak English at work violate the law unless an employer can prove it is a “business necessity.” The Commission further explains what it means, as follows:

  • It is a rule requiring employees to always speak English, including mandated breaks and lunch.
  • English-only policies are limited to circumstances for an employer to operate business safely or efficiently.
  • It is justifiable under the following situations: communication with customers or coworkers that only speak English; emergencies where workers are required to speak a common language (promote safety); efficiently do collaborative work assignments.
  • If an English-only rule is necessary, employers cannot retaliate against an employee for violating the policy unless the employer notified everyone about it, including consequences for not following them.

The concern surrounding English-only rules is that they can be hard to distinguish from discriminatory acts regarding someone’s origin and background. An example of national-origin discrimination is if an employer enforced the policy with negligent intent against an employee of Nicaraguan descent. If he doesn’t speak English well and can prove the employer is taking it out against him, the ethnicity discrimination lawyer in LA might have grounds for a successful case.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on national origin. However, this law allows employers to act around it and essentially ban all languages other than English. Punishing a worker is enforceable to an extent. Wrongful termination is not – and can be negotiated in court with an experienced labor attorney for employees by your side.

The Role of the EEOC

Any form of discrimination should get reported through the EEOC, as they oversee regulations designed to protect employees. They recognize that your primary language is an “essential characteristic” and should get treated as such. The rules previously listed set the tone for how employers may enforce the policy. You are getting placed at a disadvantage when you get denied an opportunity to speak the language in which you are comfortable. The workplace can turn into:

  • Space where foreign employees feel isolated
  • Common ground to enforce inferiority
  • Intimidation leads to isolation and bias

Our employment law firm can recognize when a policy is transgressing to violate Title VII. Although the EEOC monitors how companies implement English-only rules, they fail to act unless victims speak on how the policy has impacted them. Our law firm for ethnicity discrimination can help you file a complaint if you feel victimized at work.

Courts Are Divided

Courts remain divided on how to approach the English-only concern. That makes it harder to act alone without guidance from a nationality discrimination lawyer in Los Angeles. Many courts have sided with plaintiffs who got fired for violating the rules. While others believe the EEOC regulations go against Congress’s intent – favoring the defendant instead. The claims get denied immediately.

States are divided on the law as well. California is one of few to pass a bill that helps accommodate other languages in the workplace. The state rule makes it harder for businesses to justify enforcing it. Employers need to prove that:

  • It is necessary to operate the business safely and effectively.
  • The requirement would fulfill the intended purpose.
  • There are no alternatives that could accomplish the same goal, with less discriminatory implications.

Unlike the EEOC mandate, it cannot get imposed during breaks, at lunch, or any time where workers are off the clock.

What Can Employers Do to Prevent National Origin Harassment?

A way to combat the English-only policy is to have a plan (in place) to implement consequences for any harassment or national origin discrimination at work. A Los Angeles workplace attorney would recommend following the steps listed below.

  1. Have a written policy against harassment.
  2. Go over it in detail with employees.
  3. Train staff on the anti-discrimination and harassment policy.
  4. Ensure that the Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s (DFEH’s) poster is available and posted around the office.
  5. Distribute DFEH brochures to everyone.

Do you Need Legal Help Regarding English-Only Rules?

English-only rules can become a divisive concern over time by forcing workers to mask their cultural identity. It may suggest that other languages are inferior, including the people who speak them. If you have questions about the policy or feel that you are experiencing a form of national origin discrimination at work, contact an employment attorney immediately!

About Mann & Elias

The Law Offices of Mann & Elias is an employment law firm that provides guidance and legal support for individuals facing issues in the workplace. We represent clients at every level of the state and federal court systems in lawsuits regarding discrimination, wrongful termination, unpaid wages, and more. When your case is in our hands, we hope to minimize stress and concerns associated with work.

Workplace disputes and negotiations can be complicated and uncomfortable between an employee and employer. In many cases, an employer can retaliate, causing individuals to feel that they are at a significant disadvantage in the company. When you retain one of our lawyers, you will be well-protected and advised. While there are thousands of lawyers to choose from, we believe our success is rooted in:

  • 50+ years of trial experience
  • Excellent advocacy skills
  • Intense preparation and research
  • Quality care

Since our partnership began over 20 years ago, we have settled hundreds of claims, completed 100 jury and bench trials, and recovered more than $18 million in settlements. In the end, our goal is to understand what you need and achieve the best outcome for you by focusing on those needs. For dedicated representation with no upfront fees, give us a call at 323-866-9564 or email


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