Workers sue over alleged English-only policy

Full story: Monterey County Herald

BFI Waste Services of Salinas is facing a lawsuit filed by a current and a former employee who claim the company illegally prohibits its employees from speaking Spanish in the workplace.
Comments
1 - 20 of 117 Comments Last updated Dec 11, 2010
First Prev
of 6
Next Last
jim

Salinas, CA

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#1
Jan 23, 2010
 

Judged:

2

1

1

So sensitive we have become
something has to change

Salinas, CA

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#2
Jan 23, 2010
 

Judged:

7

4

1

The company has the right to do just that!
We are in America, were the language is English
That is the language that brings all people together, just because there are a high number of Spanish speakers, does NOT mean everyone else has to cater to them, I find it insulting that
bi-lingual means Spanish in this area, now THAT
is discrimination, there are Immigrants from all over the world, that speak different languages, yet
are polite and speak English to incl. everyone

I sure hope their case gets thrown in the trash were it belongs
SharonB

Seaside, CA

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#3
Jan 23, 2010
 

Judged:

8

4

1

This seems to me an effort to get back at a company by disgruntled employees using a legal offense called discrimination. These employees are bi-lingual and are creating a climate of division over a minor event which should be against any company rules in itself and subject to disciplinary actions. This is a tactic to often used by persons to gain leverage over companies for personal monetary gains.

The requirement for speaking only English among employees while on the job is necessary for safety reasons even in a office environment. Each employee should be able to understand what is happening within their own environment. To speak a language other than English in an American operated company is dangerous to the well being of all because it inhibits communications among employees, customers, and management which are all undesirable events in corporate life.
SharonB
sam woods

Seaside, CA

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#4
Jan 23, 2010
 

Judged:

7

3

2

since these folks have stepped up to use our judicial system, wasting our taxes for a frivolous suit, they should be deported if they are here illegally. check the social security numbers and birth certificates - my guess is they have committed identity theft and the felony of entering the country illegally.
Observer

United States

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#5
Jan 23, 2010
 

Judged:

3

3

1

something has to change wrote:
The company has the right to do just that!
We are in America, were the language is English
That is the language that brings all people together, just because there are a high number of Spanish speakers, does NOT mean everyone else has to cater to them, I find it insulting that
bi-lingual means Spanish in this area, now THAT
is discrimination, there are Immigrants from all over the world, that speak different languages, yet
are polite and speak English to incl. everyone
I sure hope their case gets thrown in the trash were it belongs
Well put. When a Mexican asks me if I speak Spanish, I tell them, "I'm an American. I speak ENGLISH." However, I do speak one other language with fluency and can dabble in some others. No, if Mexicans want to speak Spanish they should do so when they are not at work unless their job requires the language.
Is this for real

Salinas, CA

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#6
Jan 23, 2010
 

Judged:

7

6

3

I trying to secure employment, I am faced with Bi-lingual ONLY requirements for application. Can I sue!? NO.
sparticus

Salinas, CA

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#7
Jan 23, 2010
 

Judged:

9

3

1

Tipical mexicans making demands.
The reality is simple, speak English. You were hired to speak spanish to communicate to your employers customers. Not sit around in the office and talk about the other empoyees who don't speak spanish
emotionally distressed

San Diego, CA

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#8
Jan 23, 2010
 

Judged:

3

1

emotional distress.. oh how sad.. i can see how sad it would be to follow a company's policy. So if i don't like my bosses decision i should sue over it. these two people will rot in hell. no legal violations occurred. move on. oh and why doesn't company sue them back for making them feel unsafe at work speaking a foreign language. 9-11 allows for that now.
Jabberwocky

Salinas, CA

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#10
Jan 23, 2010
 

Judged:

4

2

1

America, being ruined by political correctness. Back in New Jersey, these type of problems would be compressed in the back of a garbage truck and buried... Case closed.
Big Bob

United States

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#11
Jan 23, 2010
 

Judged:

7

6

1

I'm of Mexican descent. I live in the United States. I AM an American. EVERYONE needs to learn to speak English. English is America's native tongue. If you refuse to learn how to speak it, go back home!
hogrider

United States

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#13
Jan 23, 2010
 

Judged:

2

1

Speak english or get the heck out
concerened

Saint Paul, MN

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#14
Jan 23, 2010
 

Judged:

7

4

3

I do not see anything wrong with telling employees not to speak spanish in the workplace. it is very rude when I go into an establishment and all I hear is spanish I have no idea what anyone is talking about or if they are talking about me. Can I call it discrimination that every job I see says that you must bee bilingual to apply? Now something sounds wrong with that to me...
Ocean View

Pacific Grove, CA

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#15
Jan 23, 2010
 

Judged:

7

3

2

One hundred and seventy five years ago, California was a Spanish possession. Descendants of the inhabitants then still speak Spanish and English. A hundred years after that, California was "legally" importing Mexican labor, consisting of primarily Spanish speakers. The history of Spanish-English bi-lingualism in California and other areas of the Mexican Cession in addition to Texas is similar to other areas of the United States as well where other languages are also spoken in addition to English.

Living in Germany for a year not so long ago, and not knowing the German language, I was thankful that many Germans that I encountered had a command of English which made both commerce and conversation easier for me. In this case, the company apparently values the money of its Spanish-speaking customers sufficiently to hire bilingual service representatives, but insufficiently to honor and respect the value to the employees of being permitted to use the language at their own level of comfort.

It is impossible to unlearn an impulse to speak in the language learned at home, but it is possible to learn another language in order to not feel left out. Perhaps businesses which want to stay competitive in a bilingual environment will respond by offering or supporting language classes for its employees rather than coercively restricting or punishing its more talented and language educated workers.
Jeff

Pacific Grove, CA

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#17
Jan 23, 2010
 

Judged:

3

1

1

go back to mexico then.
Ocean View

Pacific Grove, CA

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#18
Jan 23, 2010
 

Judged:

3

3

1

Jeff wrote:
go back to mexico then.
Let's recap the choices:

1) Don't like something, leave
2) Don't like something, change it

Interestingly, history pretty much endorses both choices in that sequence. People leave until they have no choice to do so, and then they change things. For many, going "back to Mexico" (or other Spanish-speaking countries) isn't a viable choice; however, accommodating a significant transition period (a couple of generations or so after the last of the non-English-speaking immigrants arrive, or in the case of California, embracing its Spanish-speaking heritage, forever) would be the most reasonable.

Still, in San Francisco, a large community of the ancestors of the imported Chinese of the 19th Century continue to contribute to both the larger community and the economy, and consequently it is reasonable to also make language accommodations in order to encourage a sense of inclusiveness and to reduce avoidable misunderstandings, exploitation, and victimization of susceptible minorities, which can lead to unnecessary and potentially destructive civil tension on all sides.
Ocean View

Pacific Grove, CA

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#19
Jan 23, 2010
 

Judged:

5

3

2

something has to change wrote:
The company has the right to do just that!
We are in America, where the language is English.
Nice try, but that is in fact NOT the law, except in specific circumstances, which can be read about at http://www.aclunc.org/library/publications/as...

One particular exerpt is informative, as follows:

"California law generally prohibits employers from having “speak-English-only” policies in the workplace. Such policies violate California law unless:

1) the employer can show some “business necessity” for the policy--that is, that there is an overriding and clearly job-related need for the policy, and

2) the employer notifies its employees about the policy, and when employees are required to abide by the policy. Even if the employer shows a “business necessity” for the policy, it must also show that there is no alternative practice to the policy that would achieve the business goals just as effectively.

"Similarly, outside California (and several other western states in which different laws may apply), the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) presumes the mere existence of a “speak-English-only” workplace policy is evidence of discrimination under federal law. Courts in other parts of
the United States, therefore, also may require employers to show a business necessity for such policies."
Jager Go Home

Monterey, CA

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#20
Jan 23, 2010
 

Judged:

8

6

3

Ocean View wrote:
<quoted text>
Let's recap the choices:
1) Don't like something, leave
2) Don't like something, change it
Interestingly, history pretty much endorses both choices in that sequence. People leave until they have no choice to do so, and then they change things. For many, going "back to Mexico" (or other Spanish-speaking countries) isn't a viable choice; however, accommodating a significant transition period (a couple of generations or so after the last of the non-English-speaking immigrants arrive, or in the case of California, embracing its Spanish-speaking heritage, forever) would be the most reasonable.
Still, in San Francisco, a large community of the ancestors of the imported Chinese of the 19th Century continue to contribute to both the larger community and the economy, and consequently it is reasonable to also make language accommodations in order to encourage a sense of inclusiveness and to reduce avoidable misunderstandings, exploitation, and victimization of susceptible minorities, which can lead to unnecessary and potentially destructive civil tension on all sides.
Do you think the Mexican government would aford a english speaking person the same rights these two are demanding or listen to the demands of a ILLEGAL regarding their rights to speak their native language? I hope BFI takes this to the mat, enough of this liberal crap.
something has to change

Salinas, CA

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#21
Jan 23, 2010
 

Judged:

5

2

2

Ocean View wrote:
<quoted text>
Let's recap the choices:
1) Don't like something, leave
2) Don't like something, change it
Interestingly, history pretty much endorses both choices in that sequence. People leave until they have no choice to do so, and then they change things. For many, going "back to Mexico" (or other Spanish-speaking countries) isn't a viable choice; however, accommodating a significant transition period (a couple of generations or so after the last of the non-English-speaking immigrants arrive, or in the case of California, embracing its Spanish-speaking heritage, forever) would be the most reasonable.
Still, in San Francisco, a large community of the ancestors of the imported Chinese of the 19th Century continue to contribute to both the larger community and the economy, and consequently it is reasonable to also make language accommodations in order to encourage a sense of inclusiveness and to reduce avoidable misunderstandings, exploitation, and victimization of susceptible minorities, which can lead to unnecessary and potentially destructive civil tension on all sides.
Immigration laws: http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/70xx/doc7051/02-28...
A person wanting permanent residency or applying for citizenship
has to speak English AND not take away a job from an American citizen, be able to hold a job, take care of themself financialy
AND their family, not be a burden on social services.
What you are suggesting by "embracing" Spanish because of the history , goes against immigration requirements AND by Bi-lingual
meaning Spanish in this area IS discrimination! IS taking away jobs from American Citizens
Most Immigrants or offspring of Immigrants (speaking of the legal ones here) are Bi-lingual, French, Swedish,Finish,German,Dutch etc.
yet you only pick Spanish and seam to want to force it on everyone else, English is the language of the USA, is the international language, if someone wants to pick/choose a second language, it should be a choice, NOT a mandate
English is the language that unites
It is NOT the Taxpayers burden to make translations available
for you to suggest extra catering to one group, that thinking is what is wrong with this state in the first place
Ocean View

Pacific Grove, CA

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#22
Jan 23, 2010
 

Judged:

3

2

2

Jager Go Home wrote:
<quoted text> Do you think the Mexican government would aford a english speaking person the same rights these two are demanding or listen to the demands of a ILLEGAL regarding their rights to speak their native language? I hope BFI takes this to the mat, enough of this liberal crap.
It doesn't matter what is legal or illegal in Mexico, or in any other country, since we are (apparently overly proud to be) in America, although it can be instructive. For instance, in many European countries, businesses routinely employ multi-lingual speakers in order to accommodate those with different languages. I have observed this in Germany, France, and Belgium, where English, German, and French communication is routinely available. More interesting are the actual official French and German-speaking communities in Germany and France, respectively, whose histories are intermingled because of intermittant historical rule over common territory by nations and people speaking either language, sort of like, say, California.

In addition, my understanding of current law is that employers are not permitted to hire anyone without proper documentation of their citizenship or right to work, and I presume BFI is complying with the law. Since other laws also apply (please see my previous post) in regard to accommodating clients who primarily speak another language other than English, most businesses don't get to choose who their clients are based on their English proficiency.

Otherwise, would stores test every patron for their knowledge of English before they were allowed inside? What's a passing score? Will we only serve people who are proficient at a first grade level, twelfth grade, college? What if someone is heard to say "ain't," or someone who splits an infinitive?" How about those pesky foreign tourists who spend money in our community?

Our economy works because of willing sellers and willing buyers, regardless of the language spoken. Businesses that survive and thrive expand their business by going beyond their core customer base. If a business accommodates English-only, another business is going to beat them at their own game by being multi-lingual and attracting both better qualified workers and more customers. My guess is that the personnel dynamics in this particular business are not healthy, otherwise this issue would have been resolved without resorting to a lawsuit.
Ocean View

Pacific Grove, CA

|
Report Abuse
|
Judge it!
|
#23
Jan 23, 2010
 

Judged:

2

2

1

Jager Go Home wrote:
<quoted text> Do you think the Mexican government would aford a english speaking person the same rights these two are demanding or listen to the demands of a ILLEGAL regarding their rights to speak their native language? I hope BFI takes this to the mat, enough of this liberal crap.
By the way, according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Mex...

"Spanish is the de facto language spoken by the vast majority of Mexicans, though the Mexican government does not legislate it as an official language. Nonetheless, the second article of the 1917 Constitution defines the country as multicultural, recognizes the right of the indigenous peoples to "preserve and enrich their languages" and promotes "bilingual and intercultural education".

"In addition to Spanish, the government recognizes 63 indigenous Amerindian languages as national languages. According to the Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples (CDI), while 13% of the population is of Amerindian origin, only 6% speak an indigenous language.

"(Mexico's) General Law of Linguistic Rights of Indigenous Peoples... recognizes that Mexico's history makes its indigenous languages, "national languages"... This law means that indigenous peoples can use their native language in communicating with government officials and request official documents in that language."

Imagine that! Mexico is more progessive in that regard that some of our own citizenry.

Tell me when this thread is updated: (Registration is not required)

Add to my Tracker Send me an email

First Prev
of 6
Next Last
Type in your comments below
Name
(appears on your post)
Comments
Characters left: 4000
Type the numbers you see in the image on the right:

Please note by clicking on "Post Comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Service and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator. Send us your feedback.

•••
•••