A number of messages
Harold F. Schiffman
haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Sun Sep 18 14:40:16 UTC 2005
1. Sunday, September 18, 2005
English-only edict at Torrance care home draws lawsuit
Federal civil rights case contends the Royalwood Care Center in Torrance
violated the rights of a Spanish-speaking janitor. The center allegedly
allowed employees to speak other foreign languages on the job.
By Denise Nix Daily Breeze
A Torrance nursing home was sued Friday by the federal government, which
claims the facility discriminates against Hispanic employees with an
English-language-only rule for its workers. The U.S. Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission filed suit in Los Angeles federal court against
Royalwood Care Center, alleging the facility violated the civil rights of
a Hispanic worker who was fired for speaking Spanish on the job, and
others who received discipline for doing the same."While there may be
situations where an employer can legitimately maintain and enforce
English-only policies in the workplace without running afoul of the laws
against discrimination, we believe this is not one of them," Olophius
Perry, director of the EEOC's Los Angeles office, said in a news release
announcing the lawsuit.
"We concluded that Royalwood overreached with its English-only policy and,
what's more, enforced it only against Hispanic employees," Perry added.
Royalwood's phone rang unanswered Friday afternoon and a message left with
Skilled Healthcare, its Orange County-based parent company, was not
returned. The EEOC alleges Royalwood's language policy was not justified
by business necessity and was applied only to Spanish-speakers, while
other non-Hispanic employees were allowed to speak languages other than
English without being disciplined.
Jose Zazueta filed a complaint with the EEOC after he was fired for
speaking Spanish while working at Royalwood. The EEOC says other Hispanic
workers were also disciplined for speaking Spanish on the job. Zazueta,
66, of Los Angeles worked as a janitor for Royalwood from February 2001
until his termination in April 2002, according to EEOC attorney Sue Noh.
Noh said Royalwood's English-only policy is based on state Department of
Health Services guidelines that requires health-care providers to treat
their patients in a language they understand.
However, the question in Zazueta's case is whether or not he was providing
patient care in his duties as a janitor, Noh said. Zazueta was fired when
he could not promise he would not speak his native language within earshot
of the patients, Noh said, calling that a difficult commitment for someone
whose first instinct might be to blurt something in his own language in an
urgent situation. Noh said she has spoken to Zazueta only through a
Spanish-language interpreter and is fairly certain he does not speak
The lawsuit seeks reinstatement and back pay for Zazueta, as well as
compensatory and punitive damages for him and other similarly situated
workers. English-only laws are an ongoing subject of debate, and the issue
is frequently the subject of civil rights lawsuits nationwide. In Alabama,
a woman sued the state over her right to take a driver's license exam in
Spanish, and in Alaska, an American Indian tribe joined with the ACLU to
sue the state over a law requiring government workers to speak English
In employment cases, there must be some legitimate reason the employer is
imposing the policy, said Pasadena employment law attorney Jack Schaedel,
who is not involved with the Royalwood case. "It can't be things like
morale or just because other employees don't like it -- that violates the
spirit of the Civil Rights Act," Schaedel said. "Restrictions are most
likely to pass muster if they are limiting employees when they are in the
presence of customers," Schaedel said. "Least likely to pass muster are
if they try to regulate an employee on break or in a back area speaking to
each other when nobody else is around."
In March, the EEOC sued Royalwood for firing a pregnant worker five days
before the San Pedro resident gave birth, claiming the nursing home on
Maple Avenue violated her civil rights. In August, a federal judge ruled
that Royalwood would not have to pay the woman any monetary damages
because it had previously filed for bankruptcy protection; however, the
suit is pending otherwise.
2. KAZAKHSTAN OPENS MILITARY LANGUAGE INSTITUTE
By Roger McDermott
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Kazakhstan has taken a small, but significant step towards preparing more
of its military personnel to receive education and training in Western
countries by opening a new military language institute in Almaty. In many
ways this development serves to highlight the extent of the uphill task of
Kazakhstan's military establishment as it seeks to increase the number of
personnel with a competent level of military English language skills.
Embryonic in its scale, the facility equally provides tangible proof that
the senior leadership within Kazakhstan's Ministry of Defense remains open
to enhancing Kazakhstan's links with the NATO Alliance and its member
states (Interfax, September 10).
Behind the high-profile public ceremony in Almaty on September 10
celebrating the opening of the Military Institute of Foreign Languages,
Army General Mukhtar Altynbayev, Kazakhstan's minister of defense, prided
himself in the international dimension of the invited guests, including
defense attaches from the United States, France, Germany, Turkey, and
Russia. Skeptics of the long-term sustainability of Kazakhstan's foreign
policy paradigm, predicated on the principle of avoiding favoring any
major power, may criticize the diversity of those invited and the
difficulty of developing a common position on assisting Kazakhstan's
military reform. Yet all these states have vested interests in seeing
success in this new venture.
The institute itself will be tasked with preparing officers to carry out
interpreting work and regional studies that emphasize military
intelligence analysis based on a knowledge of two or more languages.
Initially the institute will organize training in Chinese, English,
French, German, Korean, Turkish, and several oriental languages.
Altynbayev noted that Kazakhstan "has formed a national system of military
education that has a complete cycle. Education and combat training
programs are being developed taking into account new challenges and
threats. The priority in the development of the military education system
is that graduate experts should be in demand by both military and other
security agencies" (Kazakhstan Today, September 10).
According to Altynbayev, the crucial aspect of the institute is that in
2006 it will become a regional educational center within the framework of
NATO's Partnership for Peace (PfP). Access to this institute by other
officers from elsewhere in Central Asia may provide a stimulus promoting
NATO's work in the region and facilitating the expansion of current
bilateral security assistance programs offered to Kazakhstan by NATO's
Kazakhstan's careful balance between Washington and Moscow is not
compromised by the international support or the regional aspect of the
institute being linked in the future with NATO's PfP. Kazakhstan's
long-term military cooperation with Russia seems no less secure as a
result of these overtures towards the Alliance. Kasymzhomart Tokayev,
Kazakhstan's foreign minister, made clear his country's continued support
for the anti-terrorist efforts in Afghanistan and practical cooperation in
Iraq during his August 22-25 trip to Washington. Tokayev's talks with
Elliot Abrams, deputy national security advisor to President George W.
Bush, appeared to offer reassurance of Kazakhstan's commitment to
democratic reform; a process that may be furthered by its hopes to chair
the OSCE in 2009. Such contacts with the West, economic cooperation
coupled with security assistance, supply a wider and durable context
within which it can be expected that Kazakhstan's military will be
increasingly exposed to Western ideas and methods. Despite recent tests
for U.S. policy in Central Asia relating to the termination of its basing
rights in Uzbekistan, Tokayev assessed positively Kazakhstan's strategic
relationship with the United States. "We are helping the United States to
hold the anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan. Kazakhstan is the only
Central Asian country and one of the few Muslim countries that has sent
their military staff to Iraq. Our loyalty in this aspect is strong and
firm. We believe that now is not the time to discuss whether an action is
legitimate or not. Right now is the time to demonstrate consensus of the
international community on the issue of reconstructing this country"
(Komsomolskaya pravda Kazakhstan, August 27).
The success of the new language institute in particular will be an
important underlying factor in the utility of Western security assistance
programs. U.S. assistance, as well as British and Turkish advice and
practical aid, has helped in the realization of the plan to open such an
institute; its potential and scope to expand into something with greater
potential in the regional context raises hopes that Kazakhstan may emerge
as an engine for regional cooperation. But the weak point in the bilateral
relationship remains the issue of Kazakhstan's membership in the
Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Shanghai
Cooperation Organization (SCO). Members of Kazakhstan's defense leadership
equate membership with restrictions on the country's room for maneuver in
offering access to Kazakhstan's military facilities to NATO members.
Washington's defense planning staff, bearing in mind this caveat, will do
well to support the Military Institute of Foreign Languages; it is
relatively uncontroversial, risk free, and broadly in line with helping
Kazakhstan's military reform, while advancing and deepening the country's
links with NATO.
New centre for Welsh language pre-school movement
Penygroes, 15/09/2005 von Dafydd Meirion
A 2.9m Welsh-medium integrated training and centre has recently opened in
the mid-Wales town of Aberystwyth. Mudiad Ysgolion Meithrin, the Welsh
language nursery school movement, received funding from the Welsh
Assembly, the European Objective 1 programme, the Welsh Development Agency
and the local Ceredigion Council for the project.
Latvian state will not support national minority private schools
Riga, 14/09/2005 von Aleksandr Shegedin
According to the Latvian Law on Education, central and local governments
only finance those private educational institutions which have courses
through the medium of the state language. Put simply, the Latvian state
only supports Latvian-medium private schools. Twenty Latvian MPs have
filed an action to the Constitutional Court, claiming that the situation
is unjust. They point out that all residents of Latvia pay taxes,
regardless of ethnic origin or mother language.
Patrick le Lay, chief of TF1, condemns France for Breton cultural genocide
Brussel - Bruxelles, 13/09/2005 von Davyth Hicks
On September 1st Patrick le Lay, the Breton chief of Frances main TV
channel TF1, hit the French headlines following a frank interview with
'Bretons' magazine. In the interview he denounces the French governments
cultural genocide of the Breton people, jacobinist centralist policies,
and how in France he feels that he is a foreigner.
European Commission: less widely used languages prioritised in new
Socrates and Culture 2000 calls
Brussel / Bruxelles, 08/09/2005 von Davyth Hicks
The European Commission launched new calls for proposals for two of its
programmes, Socrates and Culture 2000, over the summer prioritising
support for less widely used language projects
Frisians mark 50 years of cross-border cooperation
Auerk/Aurich, 29/08/2005 by Onno P. Falkena
"It's about time we stop referring to ourselves as Dutch Frisians or
German Frisians. We are just Frisians, period. And we happen to live in
the Netherlands or in Germany.'' These words were spoken last Saturday by
Ingwer Nommensen, President of the Ynterfryske Rie (Interfrisian Council),
during a gathering to mark the 50th anniversary of the Frisian Manifesto
in Aurich, Germany.
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