Monday, May 15, 2006
A bit on National Origin Discrimination........
May 9, 2006 Senior Trial Attorney
Acting Supervisory Attorney
TTY: (212) 336-3622
HIGHLAND HOSPITAL/STRONG HEALTH TO PAY $200,000 TO HISPANIC EMPLOYEES SUBJECTED TO ENGLISH-ONLY RULE
EEOC Says Employer Had No Business Justification for Restrictive Language Policy
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced the settlement of a national origin discrimination lawsuit under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act against Highland Hospital of Rochester, Inc. and Strong Health for $200,000 and other relief on behalf of a class of Hispanic employees from the housekeeping department who were subjected to English-only rules without any business justification by the employer.
The lawsuit asserted that Highland Hospital knowingly hired employees with limited English skills and then prohibited them from speaking Spanish and required that they speak only English in the workplace at all times. One manager reportedly said, “This is America, Speak English”-- making clear that there was no business justification in the Housekeeping Department for an English-only rule.
In addition to the monetary payments, the settlement calls for a three-year prohibition from implementing English-only policies. Highland Hospital has also agreed to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination policy and complaint procedure and to train its managers and supervisors regularly on national origin discrimination and other unlawful discriminatory practices.
“EEOC commends the five charging parties for their courage in bringing this matter to our attention,” said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Sunu P. Chandy. “Cases involving language issues, accent discrimination, and restrictive language policies or practices are EEOC priorities,” she said.
The agency’s New York District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. added, “Employers must heighten their awareness to discriminatory language policies and practices, especially as the 21st century workforce is increasingly comprised of multi-lingual individuals.”
The EEOC is the federal government agency responsible for enforcing the nation's federal anti-discrimination laws in the workplace. Further information about the EEOC, including its policies on national origin discrimination and English-only rules, is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov