Human Resource Blog

Where HR Professionals Seek Answers

A Practical Source For Your Daily HR Needs.Lets Build An HR Blog Community Together! Want To Share Your HR Knowledge Or Gain Knowledge Through Other Professionals?Lets Discuss HR!


Spanish vs English in the workplace

We are a communications company that works close to the US-Mexico boarder. We hold weekly update meetings, some of the attendees are Spanish only speaking, are we in any way, shape or form obligated to conduct our meetings in Spanish?

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been clear that rules requiring employees to speak only English in the workplace violate the law unless they are reasonably necessary to the operation of the business. The EEOC is a federal agency responsible for enforcing laws prohibiting employment discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age (40 and over) and physical or mental disability. Employers with 15 or more employees, employment agencies, unions as well as local, state and federal agencies must abide by laws set forth by the EEOC.

A policy requiring employees to speak only English in the workplace at all times, including breaks and lunch time, will rarely be justified according to the EEOC. The EEOC provides the following guidelines:
• An English-only rule should be limited to the circumstances in which it is needed for the employer to operate safely or efficiently.
• Circumstances in which an English-only rule may be justified include: communications with customers or coworkers who only speak English; emergencies or other situations in which workers must speak a common language to promote safety; cooperative work assignments in which the English-only rule is needed to promote efficiency.
• Even if there is a need for an English-only rule, an employer may not take disciplinary action against an employee for violating the rule unless the employer has notified workers about the rule and the consequences of violating it.

There is no legal requirement that an employer conduct a business meeting in another language to accommodate the language requirements of other workers. However, there is the question of why the employer hired individuals that cannot speak English to perform jobs that require the ability to understand and speak English during meetings. It appears that maybe English fluency is not a real necessity to perform job functions and either offering a meeting in Spanish or some form of translation during the meeting may be a reasonable request. It really depends on the nature and need of the business operations.

This entry was posted on Saturday, August 2nd, 2014 at 7:44 pm and is filed under
Labor Laws, Workplace Management.
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

  • [ Back ]
  • WP-SpamFree by Pole Position Marketing

Home Ask a Question Archives

© 2008, All Rights Reserved