Posts Tagged ‘language bias’

Non-Spanish-speaking teacher sues after being denied job teaching Spanish

A third-grade teacher “says the Miami-Dade County School Board discriminated against her by not hiring her for a job. One requirement of the position? Teaching an hour of Spanish per day….Her complaint says the school could have given her the job and then just had someone else teach the foreign language component for one hour per day.” [Miami New Times, Miami Herald]

EEOC roundup

  • “U.S. Chamber of Commerce challenges EEOC over its ‘unreasonable’ enforcement tactics” [Jon Hyman, more on House oversight hearing, earlier on court rebuffs to agency and more]
  • On summary judgment: “EEOC case alleging ADA violations against Womble Carlyle nixed by federal judge” [ABA Journal]
  • By 3-2 commissioner vote, EEOC adopts detailed, restrictive new guidance on pregnancy discrimination [Eric Meyer, Hyman]
  • Commission thinks its investigation, mediation and other pre-litigation procedures should be immune from court oversight and public transparency [Merrily Archer]
  • Survey: “Are Employers Adapting to EEOC Guidance on Employment Background Checks?” [Nick Fishman, Employee Screen, related earlier]
  • Commission sues Wisconsin Plastics, Inc. for terminating employees with low-rated English skills as part of English on the job policy [Scott Greenfield, EEOC, my two cents way back]
  • “Is the EEOC the new NLRB?” [John Holmquist, Michigan Employment Law Connection]

Discrimination law roundup

  • Next big church-employee bias case? Teacher signed “abide by Catholic teachings” contract, wins $170K anyway [AP] ACLU, which cheers that ruling, upset that new ENDA version would give more liberty to religious entities [BuzzFeed]
  • “Employee Who Changed Word Secretly in Severance Agreement Allowed to Proceed With Discrimination Claim” [Daniel Schwartz]
  • Sleeper Supreme Court case, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, tackles mixed-motive retaliation, oft-recurring fact pattern [podcast with Emory lawprof Charles Shanor, Fed Soc Blog]
  • You needn’t be anti-gay to oppose ENDA [Coyote, Scott Shackford] Case for public-accommodations version in state of Washington must be symbolic since it’s light on substance [Shackford]
  • English-only policies at workplace an “interesting and seldom litigated issue.” [Jon Hyman]
  • Bad, unfair move: “California Senate Passes Law to Revoke Status of Nonprofits With Anti-Gay Policies” [Philanthropy News Digest; Scott Walter, Philanthropy Daily]
  • Among those seeking broad religious exemptions from anti-bias laws, prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion ought to be more controversial [BTB] Arizona bill carving out religious exception to bias laws also authorizes new suits against business [AZCentral]
  • “Across the country, human rights commissions cause more harm than they prevent.” [Scott Beyer, City Journal; Mark Hemingway, Weekly Standard]
  • New Colorado law allows workers to collect from small businesses in discrimination lawsuits [Judy Greenwald, Business Insurance]

“Hospital OKs Language-Discrimination Settlement of $975K”

“Delano Regional Medical Center in Kern County defended its English-only policy as necessary for patient care.” Nonetheless, without admitting wrongdoing, it yielded to a complaint from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center that it had improperly penalized Filipino-American workers for communicating with each other in their own language. The suit had alleged, among other things, that the hospital had been more liberal in permitting the use of other languages other than English, and that it had not prevented workers from making fun of accents and expressing ethnically-based hostility. [L.A. Times, ABA Journal]

October 3 roundup

Faced with federal suit, Arizona quits monitoring teachers’ English fluency

My new Cato post points out that while this may be craziness, it’s craziness with a long pedigree:

It was way back in the first Bush administration that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) began filing lawsuits against employers for “discriminating” against employees with difficult-to-understand or heavily accented speech, the theory being that this served as an improper proxy for discrimination based on national origin. The scope for allowable exceptions was exceedingly narrow, too narrow to cover most teaching positions, as I wrote quite a while back when the issue had just come over the horizon in a Massachusetts case. Indeed, the National Education Association (I pointed out) had been prevailed on to pass a resolution “decrying disparate treatment on the basis of ‘pronunciation’ — quite a switch from the old days when teachers used to be demons for correctness on that topic.”

Read the whole thing here (& Alkon, Peter Pappas/Tax Lawyer’s Blog, Bader). Another view: Josh Hanson.

Teacher with poor English fluency appeals firing

A dismissed teacher’s case against the school system in Lowell is now before Massachusetts’s Supreme Judicial Court. Phanna Rem Robishaw, a native of Cambodia originally hired to teach bilingual programs, had received favorable evaluations for years but received an unsatisfactory rating in English fluency after the state began requiring that teachers be tested on that skill. An arbitrator reinstated her but a state court judge reversed the reinstatement, terming her performance on an interview test tape “utterly incomprehensible”. Robishaw’s lawyer says the arbitrator excluded the tape from evidence and that the judge should not have considered it, and that the judge failed to observe the presumption against overturning arbitration results. “In 2002, Massachusetts’ voters passed Question 2, requiring all school superintendents to attest to the English fluency and literacy of their teachers where ‘the teacher’s fluency is not apparent through classroom observation and assessment or interview assessment.'” [Lowell Sun]

Readers with long memories will recall the 1990s controversy over a hard-to-understand foreign-born teacher in Westfield, Mass. which led Massachusetts voters to adopt Question 2; I wrote about it for Reason here. By coincidence, presumably, Robishaw attended Westfield State College.

Unfit mother — for not speaking English?

“One of DHS’s apparent fears is that an infant isn’t safe in a home where the mother can articulate a 911 call solely in a language spoken only by some 50,000 Oaxacan Indians.” The Pascagoula, Miss. child protection authorities deny that Cirila Baltazar Cruz’s inability to speak English or Spanish played a major role in the decision to take her baby away from her. [Time magazine via Stossel]

March 27 roundup

  • Find me someone who speaks Mixtecan, fast: under new California law health insurers must provide patients with certified language interpreters [Ventura County Star]
  • “Law Prof’s Article on His Jury Experience Leads to Overturned Verdict” [ABA Journal]
  • Quick, lock up the Internet: Harvard Law’s John Palfrey wants to unleash child-endangerment suits against online providers [Citizen Media Law]
  • “Another Lesbian Visitation Case has Liberty Counsel Spouting Nonsense” [Ed Brayton; earlier Miller-Jenkins case]
  • “Jury awards need to be fair, not lucrative” [Jackie Bueno Sousa, Miami Herald]
  • Aussie strip club disagrees with exotic dancer on whether faulty pole caused her injury [Brisbane Courier-Mail]
  • Hasbro nastygram over “Little Mr. Monopoly” use [Bob Ambrogi, Ron Coleman]
  • No, “crash of ’09” doesn’t refute “capitalist system”, any more than “car wreck” refutes “auto-based travel”.