Boston: Government Agency Says requiring English on the job Violates Hispanic Civil Rights

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sat May 5 13:39:19 UTC 2007

May 04, 2007
Government Agency Says the English Language Violates Hispanic Civil Rights

The U.S. government is suing a well-known Christian charity for
discrimination because it required two Hispanic employees at its
Massachusetts thrift store to speak English. The Salvation Army has a
policy requiring its thrift-store employees to speak English and it gave
two clothes sorters at a Framingham store a year to learn some English.
When the womenone from the Dominican Republic and the other from El
Salvadorrefused, the charity fired them. Now the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the taxpayer-funded federal agency that
enforces workplace discrimination laws, is suing the Salvation Army for
violating the womens civil rights by forcing them to stop speaking their
native language.

In a lawsuit, recently filed in U.S. District Court in Boston, the federal
government accuses the charity of unlawful employment practices that were
done with malice and reckless indifference to the womens federally
protected rights. It also accuses the Salvation Army of inflicting
emotional pain, loss of enjoyment of life, embarrassment and humiliation.
In other words, the Bush Administration is essentially saying that
immigrants who must learn English to work in this country are being
severely discriminated against. After all, the EEOCs five commissioners
and general counsel are all presidential appointments confirmed by the

This latest case appears to be a waste of American taxpayer dollars since
federal courts have broadly upheld an employer's right to require
employees to speak English on the job. In fact, a judge has in the past
ruled that the Salvation Armys English policy is perfectly legal. The 2003
ruling said that another of the charitys Boson-area thrift stores was
within its rights to fire a bilingual employee who refused to speak
English when told do so by her boss.


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