Is It Illegal to Speak Spanish In the Workplace?

Submitted by pec on

No, it is not illegal to speak Spanish in the workplace. In the United States, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) prohibits workplace discrimination based on national origin and this includes speaking a language that is not the language of the workplace. Employers are not legally allowed to enforce a policy that limits the use of a particular language, including Spanish, unless a legitimate business requires that only certain languages are allowed in the workplace.

Can An Employer Tell You Not To Speak Spanish?

It is illegal for an employer to forbid you from speaking Spanish, or any other language in the workplace. All an employer can require is the use of a certain language such as English because it is necessary to keep up workplace relations with both employees and customers. Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is illegal for employers to forbid you from speaking another language.

When Do ‘English Only’ Rules Apply?

An English-only rule can be applied in the following situations:

  • for conducting essential business;
  • communicating with customers, coworkers, or supervisors who speak only English;
  • in an emergency environment when its essential for employees to communicate in a common language in order to promote safety;
  • for cooperative work based assignments which are in English, the English-only rule is necessary for promoting efficiency;
  • to allow a supervisor who speaks just English to monitor employees’ performance whose job duties require communication in English with either coworkers or customers or both

Can You Sue For Language Discrimination?

If you think you may have been discriminated against by your employer because you spoke your own language in the workplace you may be able to file a charge of national origin or language-based discrimination with your state as long as your employer has more than 15 employees. You may also file a charge of national origin discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Filing a charge of national origin discrimination is the only route you have to protect your right to sue your employer in court under federal law. You will need evidence that you were forced to not speak another language. This could include any of the following:

  • witnesses’ reports;
  • conversations accessed on your employer’s mobile phone;
  • recordings of the conversations between your employer and employees;
  • proof that you were reprimanded when you were told not to speak your own language.

The next step is to file a claim with the EEOC or your own state agency that handles employment discrimination claims. You should ensure you provide as much evidence as you can to support your claim of language discrimination.

Get in Touch With a Discrimination Lawyer

It is important to contact a discrimination lawyer to get a Free Case Evaluation today so that you can proceed with your claim for national origin discrimination based on your employer forbidding you from speaking your national origin language at work.

Add new comment