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Hiring Employees with Heavy Accents in a Dental Office with Older Patients

We are in the hiring process for the front-end in our dental office. Because we have older patients that can be temperamental about our employees and are also often hard-of-hearing, we are not sure that we wish to hire immigrants that might also speak with heavy accents. How do the labor laws reflect our hiring preference?

You are in a situation that many employers in industries across the spectrum have to deal with. In your case, you are faced with having to hire employees that your patients will trust and want to work with when they have their dental care needs met by your office. However, depending on the size of your office, you may have to comply with Title VII, which is a federal document that applies to employers in states across the country.

Title VII state that employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees and potential employees based on race, color, national origin, religion, or sex. Title VII is overseen by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is part of the Department of Labor.

If your dental office has fewer than 15 employees, then you may not have to comply with Title VII. Title VII only covers those employers that have 15 or more employees that work each working day for 20 or more calendar weeks in the preceding calendar year.

If your office does have to comply with Title VII, then you may have to consider the implications of your hiring processes. You may not refuse to hire someone that is affiliated with any of the protected groups. As such, it may be illegal for you to turn away an applicant simply because of his or her thick accent. According to Title VII, you do have the right to turn away an applicant that does not speak English, if the ability to communicate in English is a requirement when interacting with superiors and with your patients. However, simply because an applicant has a thick accent does not mean that you could be legally allowed to refuse him or her. Remember that Title VII prohibits you from hiring someone based on his or her national origin.

Of course, you will always want to speak with an attorney before making serious decisions if you think that you could face legal repercussions of your actions. However, if you have a candidate that you would prefer not to hire based on his or her accent or minority status, then it would be to your advantage to also find other serious reasons not to hire the candidate. Otherwise, you might be in violation of Title VII. CB

This entry was posted on Monday, September 24th, 2007 at 11:58 pm and is filed under
Compensation, Hiring and Staffing, Human Resources Management, Labor Laws.
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