'English-only' Rules in the Workplace

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Tennessee became the first state to pass a law which allows businesses to require their employees to speak English at work. Tennessee is leading a trend seen by a number of cities throughout the country, which are implementing laws that allow English-only rules in one form or another.

Brandon Gee, a staff writer for the Nashville Business Journal, joins us to explain what these types of laws could mean for businesses, many of which are against such rules.   

We’re also joined by Arnedo Valera, an attorney, who is representing three Filipino nurses who were fired last month for speaking Tagalog, the official language of the Philippines, during their lunch break at Bon Secours Hospital in Baltimore.

We asked the hospital to comment on this story; the Bon Secours lawyer provided the following statement:

Bon Secours Baltimore Health System is aware that four former employees have filed Charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. However, Bon Secours has not received copies of the Charges from the Commission and, therefore, is not in a position to comment on the specific allegations.

Bon Secours' mission is to bring compassion to health care and it strives to treat both patients and employees with respect and dignity. Its first priority is the safety and welfare of its patients. Since English is the principal language of our patients and employees, Bon Secours' English language policy, like that of so many other health care providers, is in place to ensure clear, effective communications among caregivers while performing their job responsibilities, in order to protect patients and minimize safety risks. If a patient is not comfortable communicating in English, it is Bon Secours policy to provide translation services to the extent possible.