More Workers Claiming Job Discrimination Over Language, Accents

By Paul Foy | December 4, 2012

  • December 4, 2012 at 11:48 am
    jet says:
    Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
    Thumb up 51
    Thumb down 3

    I do not condone discriminating against anyone, however, when I call somewhere and the CSR who answers doesn’t understand my request, it is extremely aggravating & frustrating.
    I find this on the job as well,with system issues and the IT people repeat everything & still do not understand.
    My grandparents came to the USA speaking only German & in my grandmother’s case, German & Russian. They bought books & taught themselves English. My grandmother spoke English with very little accent – my grandfather died long before I was born.
    These complaints of discrimination sound like a way to excuse poor job performance & in the truck driver’s case, poor driving – several citations for violations?

    • December 4, 2012 at 2:02 pm
      Burnie Madeoff says:
      Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
      Thumb up 26
      Thumb down 5

      Too lazy to make the effort to learn English; too lazy to do the job. Sue the employer for easy cash. The new American Dream.

    • December 11, 2012 at 11:29 am
      Elizabeth V morrow says:
      Like or Dislike:
      Thumb up 1
      Thumb down 0

      101% agreeable with you jet. 34 years have gone by and the USA people still complain about accents when foreigners, like me even, being fully bilingual and had taken Shorthand in English and Spanish, get ‘bugged’ when they say: “you have an accent.” HELL with accents even the people in the South and people in the East of the USA have accents. This is human; however, not being fluent in the language (even American born do not know their English well enough to communicate or write darn it!) not being fluent posses a big problem for miscommunication and misunderstandings. I found out that even among and between Americans born in this country, people do not communicate or understand each other well.

      I do disagree to have foreigners or nationals in positions when the communication skill has to be excellent (like customer service even at government positions) the lack of speech and accent KILLS a language anywhere in the world! :-) Many times the good intentions of a person compensates for the lack of proficiency but even that is gone nowadays and instead one is seen (without talking) as an enemy and hell, this people are so low educated themselves!

      Better screening and demands before hiring rather than seeing others as a way of exploitation would make this a better nation, needless to say Bilingual educated people should have higher salaries, hence the United States of American could compete with the rest of the educated world in other countries.

      Surely there are purely physical jobs where language is not that required, not even from the national who got C’s and D’s in school all through his/her life and never graduated from high school. This is a human condition that happens everywhere in the world, these are the ones who cannot get well paid jobs, who can not achieve higher positions or pay unless THEY LEARN THEIR TRADE very well at and demand themselves to be good, if not better workers. Employers being greedy have brought the working field into the chaos of people, men and women, being fearful of loosing their jobs by rumors that ‘foreigners will get them!’, hate because educated ones can get ahead (women are treated as prostitutes instead of being recognized for their mental and intellectual capacities) and the discrimination is, as you say, many times an excuse to get money or impose themselves in spite of their lack of abilities and EDUCATION or previous careers or professions.

      It is normal and human to speak one own’s native language with others, even Americans do the same thing abroad and NOBODY CONDEMNS THEM. When is America going to learn this? Of course, being English the official language, not British English but American English, one must speak this language in front of others. I learned it is rude to speak a foreign language in the presence of others. This COURTESY must be applied everywhere in this country when other are present, even if English is not their first language when others won’t understand what is said.

      KINDNESS from the LISTENER and GOOD INTENTIONS from the SPEAKER LEADING THE CONVERSATION OR GUIDING ANOTHER PERSON. But it should be a must, an honor for this country and one’s effort to live and survive in here as it would be in England, Australia, Scotland and Ireland, to learn English. So must Americans learn another language to honor others when they go abroad.

      • April 4, 2014 at 8:51 am
        Harry Cohan says:
        Like or Dislike:
        Thumb up 0
        Thumb down 1

        I could barely understand your post. I hope you aren’t taking a job away from an American who has full command of the language.

  • December 4, 2012 at 11:55 am
    draetish says:
    Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
    Thumb up 33
    Thumb down 2

    I agree, back in the day when immigrants came to America they taught themselves to speak the language just as in any other country.

    • December 4, 2012 at 1:40 pm
      Joe says:
      Hot debate. What do you think?
      Thumb up 27
      Thumb down 30

      Really? So I’m assuming you speak Cherokee fluently then?

      • December 4, 2012 at 1:58 pm
        Cherokee Power says:
        Like or Dislike:
        Thumb up 5
        Thumb down 1

        Tsalagi Ulanigvgv. I do speak Cherokee, so what is your point, Joe?

    • December 5, 2012 at 1:02 am
      David says:
      Like or Dislike:
      Thumb up 2
      Thumb down 0

      they woul;dn’t let my grandfather leave Ellis Island until he could take the citizenship test… in English. He spent months living there teaching himself the language.

  • December 4, 2012 at 12:15 pm
    overworked says:
    Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
    Thumb up 29
    Thumb down 6

    The shoe can go onto the other foot as well. Picture an American born English speaking only member of society who is denied a job they are truely qualified for because they do not speak a second language…usually Spanish. I say that is discrimination!

    • December 4, 2012 at 1:40 pm
      sandman says:
      Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
      Thumb up 30
      Thumb down 4

      My daughter has a teaching degree and has been hired as an “aide” to work with a challenged student that no other teacher wants to work with but she has twice been denied a full time position because she does not speak Spanish fluently. And this is her home district! Maybe its time for her to sue!

    • December 4, 2012 at 2:36 pm
      hmmmmmmm says:
      Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
      Thumb up 30
      Thumb down 2

      Overworked – I have to disagree with you. If the job calls for the skill of being bi-lingual then just like a job requirement to work on a computer, if you don’t have the skill then you don’t get the job. It is not discrimination to require a certain skill level.

      • December 4, 2012 at 3:21 pm
        overworked says:
        Like or Dislike:
        Thumb up 8
        Thumb down 8

        Sorry I respect your opinion, however I do not agree with it. This country is the United States of America. Our national language is ENGLISH. Why do we have to bend over backwards and deny employment due to not being fluent in other languages? If someone is unable to understand English…it should be on them to get an interpretor. I pay my taxes to an ENGLISH speaking government!

        • December 4, 2012 at 3:48 pm
          hmmmmmmm says:
          Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
          Thumb up 19
          Thumb down 0

          Agree or disagree, we don’t have a legal “official” language. If a job requirement was that you need to lift 50 lbs boxes, if you can’t do it, then you are not qualified to fill the job. If the job requirement is that you must be bi-lingual, then it is a skill you must have to fill the job. The point of the story is that if the driver could not speak or understand the English language well enough to follow directions at the weigh stations, then he would be ticketed (or in this case warned). It appears from the article that he was warned/cited before, which means he needed to get better in his English skills and he didn’t. Just using the information from the article, then he didn’t have the skills necessary to perform the duties of the job and therefore should be fired.

      • December 4, 2012 at 4:22 pm
        Carl says:
        Like or Dislike:
        Thumb up 3
        Thumb down 0

        hmmm- But then that would go with English being a requirement as well.

        • December 4, 2012 at 5:21 pm
          hmmmmmmm says:
          Like or Dislike:
          Thumb up 5
          Thumb down 0

          Absolutely — if the driver in the article could not speak English and read English to comply with the directions of the regulatory folks at the weigh station, then he doesn’t have the skills to do the job. Since it wasn’t just one weigh station that had a problem, then it is suspect that he doesn’t have the skills to do the job.

  • December 4, 2012 at 1:31 pm
    FFA says:
    Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
    Thumb up 24
    Thumb down 4

    This is American. If they cant speak the language, they should not have even been hired in the forst place.
    I have taken my business elsewhere when I could not understand the service rep. And the companies are just supposed to lose business because the people they hire cant speak english to a level of where they can be understood?
    Employers are damned if they do hire them (lose customers because they cant be understood if they do hire) and damed if they dont – they get sued for discrimination. Sad day when a potential employer is put in that predicimate.

    • December 4, 2012 at 1:48 pm
      Al E. Gator says:
      Like or Dislike:
      Thumb up 13
      Thumb down 4

      I sure hope you wasn’t hired for your typin skills!

      Bosses have to make sure that the candidate who gets hired can effectively DO THE JOB – if it means speakin or understandin English, then NOT speakin or understandin English proper-like is NOT protected by the law.

      If the nice Senora takin’ my order at the BBQ stand didn’t understand me, who hired her, and why?

      Figuring out later on that the employee don’t do neither just opens up a can of lawyers.

      Though the last can of lawyers I opened up sure tasted good. Just needed extra hot sauce to hide the smell.

      • December 4, 2012 at 5:16 pm
        FFA says:
        Like or Dislike:
        Thumb up 3
        Thumb down 0

        No. I was hired because of my fat fingers and my blind eyes. Additionally, I was born with the gift to gab.

        • December 5, 2012 at 11:06 am
          reality bites says:
          Like or Dislike:
          Thumb up 2
          Thumb down 0

          The gift TO gab is not a gift, especially for the listeners.

          The gift OF gab, however, is a totally different story.

          • December 5, 2012 at 1:18 pm
            FFA says:
            Like or Dislike:
            Thumb up 1
            Thumb down 1

            Another one smarter then me. HMMMM. Maybe I should quit my job and sue myself because I was too stupid when I got hireed by myself. Or was it my wife that hired me to run the company?

  • December 4, 2012 at 1:32 pm
    reality bites says:
    Like or Dislike:
    Thumb up 1
    Thumb down 1

    Oh God not this one again…

  • December 4, 2012 at 2:25 pm
    Broker of Record says:
    Like or Dislike:
    Thumb up 10
    Thumb down 2

    Some overseas IT call centers are using IM (instant messageing) to communicate with the person with the IT problem. This eliminates the accent. Their typing skills are very good, so I feel this is a win win for both parties.

    • December 4, 2012 at 5:15 pm
      FFA says:
      Like or Dislike:
      Thumb up 9
      Thumb down 0

      Except for Americans that are now unemployed.

      • December 5, 2012 at 10:16 am
        Broker of Record says:
        Like or Dislike:
        Thumb up 2
        Thumb down 0

        I agree. The jobs should stay in the US. I was addressing the accent issue.

        • December 5, 2012 at 1:19 pm
          FFA says:
          Like or Dislike:
          Thumb up 1
          Thumb down 1

          And I was addressing the Unemployment rate.

  • December 4, 2012 at 2:46 pm
    earlybird says:
    Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
    Thumb up 17
    Thumb down 2

    If a worker doesnt have the necessary skills, they should be terminated. If its an overseas call center, cancel it. What is the problem? Oh, the EEOC and certain states and unions are the problem? Move your operation to a non-union, “right to work” state!

  • December 4, 2012 at 3:33 pm
    Libby says:
    Well-loved. Like or Dislike:
    Thumb up 18
    Thumb down 7

    I know my viewpoint will not be popular, but not all discrimination suits are bogus. There are still people that are discriminated because of:

    Race
    Sex
    Pregnancy
    Religion
    National origin
    Disability (physical or mental, including HIV status)
    Age (for workers over 40)
    Military service or affiliation
    Bankruptcy or bad debts
    Genetic information
    Citizenship status (for citizens, permanent residents, temporary residents, refugees, and asylees)

    This is AGAINST THE LAW. Now, I agree, if you hired the person with accent, you can’t then fire them for it.

    The article states plainly that there are rules about when you can use the English-only requirement and it is totally acceptable when it is a critical part of the job. Certainly I don’t want my EMT or police officer being unable to understand me, but the “senora at the BBQ place?” I’ll just point to the menu and nod.

  • December 5, 2012 at 12:59 am
    David says:
    Like or Dislike:
    Thumb up 1
    Thumb down 0

    it is not discrimination. If the job I am hiring for is to interact with my clients who all speak english, and you can not clearly speak english, then you are not qualified.

    • December 5, 2012 at 11:33 am
      Libby says:
      Like or Dislike:
      Thumb up 0
      Thumb down 0

      You are correct and you shouldn’t have been hired in the first place. Hiring someone knowing they speak English as a second language and then firing them for it, may be justified. But it will not stop you from being sued. Alot of times it costs more to defend than the judgement.

      The point being, employer beware. You may do all the right things and still get sued.

    • December 5, 2012 at 11:34 am
      Libby says:
      Like or Dislike:
      Thumb up 2
      Thumb down 0

      That’s how you sell EPL coverage to stubborn clients… ;-)

      • December 5, 2012 at 1:21 pm
        FFA says:
        Like or Dislike:
        Thumb up 0
        Thumb down 0

        Good point Libby. Maybe I should print this article and put it in my presentation binder.

  • April 4, 2014 at 8:48 am
    Harry Cohan says:
    Like or Dislike:
    Thumb up 0
    Thumb down 0

    How about the native speaker of American English who is put at a disadvantage when everyone around her speaks with an accent and she cannot follow work-related dialogue? The worse case of this scenario may be when the native English speaker must decipher the accented English and put it into clear language. I am a technical writer, and this is my dilemma. Some of these non-native English speakers are very proud of their English language skills and will “fix” my documentation. Their “fixes” worsen the document. I am not talking about the addition of technical details or concepts. I’m talking about stylistic, grammar, and punctuation “enhancements.” I bristle because they believe they are better at the English language than I am. And I’ve been told by my boss that to complain about their accents and the fact that these non-native speakers are writing complicated technical documents in a very dysfunctional manner is discrimination. Where are my rights in all this? I’m the widow of an American. Do I get special protections for that? Why not?



Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

More News
More News Features