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Monday, April 21, 2008

English Only

Can you require the "ability to speak, read and write in English"? Or is this a surefire discrimination issue if the applicant meets all other job qualifications?

Absolutely you can require this--if the job actually requires you to speak, read and write English. For instance, my job absolutely requires those skills. I have to do a lot of communicating in English, written and spoken. It would also be a bonus if I spoke Spanish, but I don't.

On the other hand, I have cleaning ladies who lack that ability. Their manager, who I communicate with speaks English. Some of her crew does not. Does this impair their ability to clean my bathrooms? Absolutely not.

Without knowing the specifics of the job, I'd have to guess that your statement that the applicant "meets all other job qualifications" indicates that it would be illegal for you to not hire this person. So, he/she can do the job. That indicates it's not a true requirement for the job.

Keep in mind that even if the job DOES have a justifiable reason for requiring the ability to speak English, you can't require people to speak it on breaks, at lunch, or when chatting with co-workers.

Because I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice (entertainment value only, people. Quick, feel entertained!), here and here is some more info.

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