A Wisconsin company is being sued by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over the company's requirement that its employees speak English on the job. The EEOC claims that Wisconsin Plastics, Inc. of Green Bay violated anti-discrimination provisions of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act when it fired Hmong and Hispanic workers over the employees' inability to speak English, according the blog Judicial Watch. The Hmong are an Asian ethnic group from the mountainous regions of China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand.
"That's ludicrous and an overreaching of government," Irene Garcia, blog editor and Spanish media liaison for Judicial Watch told CNSNews.com. "If you are a private company in the United States, you should be able to require your employees to speak English." According to the EEOC, the provision of the Civil Rights Act that bans discrimination in employment based on national origin includes the linguistic characteristics of a national origin group. In a news release from the federal agency, Chicago Regional Attorney John Hendrickson said the company's English requirement is based on "superficial" reasoning.
"Our experience at the EEOC has been that so-called 'English only' rules and requirements of English fluency are often employed to make what is really discrimination appear acceptable. But superficial appearances are not fooling anyone," Hendrickson said. "When speaking English fluently is not, in fact, required for the safe and effective performance of a job, nor for the successful operation of the employer's business, requiring employees to be fluent in English usually constitutes employment discrimination on the basis of national origin — and thus violates federal law."
But fluency was not the issue, according to Garcia of Judicial Watch, who said the employees in question "were not able to speak English at any kind of level that would be considered proficient."
"In this case some English is necessary to communicate with supervisors and stuff like that, and the EEOC just went after this private company because some employees were being marked down for not having English skills," she told CNS News. "So that doesn't really make sense."
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