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English-only rules and discrimination

Some businesses in Maryland have English-only language rules in place for their employees. In many cases, these rules are permissible. However, they may be considered forms of prohibited discrimination in some instances.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids discrimination based on the national origin of an employee. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is tasked with enforcing the regulations that have been written under the act, has taken a dim view of English-only orders in the workplace. The courts have been divided on these types of rules, ruling for the EEOC and the plaintiff employees in some cases and for the employers in others.

It is generally considered to be permissible for a workplace to have an English-only rule if the rule is made out of business necessity and is only applicable to specific times. An example would be a news announcer who must present the evening news in English. Blanket English-only rules that pertain at all times have generally been found to be discriminatory, however. In order to be permissible, an English-only rule that is in place only during certain times must first have employee notification in advance before it is implemented.

When an employee has suffered from a wrongful termination because of his or her national origin, he or she may want to consult with an employment law attorney. An attorney may review the facts in order to determine whether or not it appears to have been a discriminatory action. If the lawyer believes that it was discrimination, he or she may help the client file a complaint with the EEOC. If the EEOC later gives leave for the client to file a lawsuit, the attorney may then draft and file the civil complaint.

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The Law Firm of
Stephen S. Burgoon

5235 Westview Drive, Suite 100
Frederick, MD 21703
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