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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12801
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I have a situation (Labor Law) on my production floor.I

Customer Question

I have a situation (Labor Law) on my production floor.
I have several Hispanic employees and several Non-Hispanic employees.
All of the employees speak English.
The Hispanic employees were routinely speaking Spanish during the day and it caused problems with the Non-Hispanics that they felt uncomfortable with that, they felt they were being talked about.
I requested that during the working time (not lunch or breaks) that everyone speak English that it was rude to speak in another language when you could speak in the same language. I also said that if someone was trying to explain something to another Spanish speaking person and it was more efficient to do it in Spanish (say they were training a new employee) that that was alright.
I have a problem employee that likes to stir up trouble, he is going around saying that we are discriminating against him and the others and now many of them are angry.
Last point is that we were going to terminate this employee for other issues but I am concerned that he would claim discrimination.
So is it discrimination to have everyone speak English during the working hours if they do speak English.
If it is not can that be brought up as discrimination if I terminated this employee, this is Florida.
I understand that it is better to have some warnings about the other issues in place.
Thank You
Greg XXX
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do everything I can to answer your question. Provided there is a legitimate business purpose for an "English only" policy, such policy would be lawful. As there was a clear reason here for English only (other employees were uncomfortable and it increased harmony to have everyone speaking the same language), the policy would not typically give rise to any claim for discrimination. This conclusion is further supported by the fact that you would still allow employees to speak in Spanish during breaks and if it was more efficient to do so. Clearly, you weren't "out to get" Spanish speaking employees, your policy was implemented to achieve a particular business purpose. But there is a separate issue, though, and that is retaliation. Technically, it is illegal to take adverse action against an employee because that employee made a "good faith complaint" about illegal discrimination. Although your policy would appear to be lawful, a complaint about it would still likely be construed as a complaint made in "good faith" complaint about illegal discrimination. If that is the case, then this employee would have a legal claim if they could prove that they were being fired in retaliation for their complaint. Of course, that is not the reason you will be letting this employee go, but ultimately it comes down to what you can prove. Do you have any documentation to support that this employee was already going to be let go before they made their complaint (i.e. emails or memos)? Do you have documentation of discipline that could form the basis for termination? The real question is whether you could convince a jury that you were not terminating this employee because of their complaint. Your exposure here is directly tied to how confident you are of your ability to convince a jury of that. I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hello again,I just wanted to followup with you to make sure that you did not have any further questions or concerns. For some unknown reason, the experts are not always getting replies or ratings (which is how we get credit for our work) that the customer thinks have gone through. In your case I have not yet received either. If you are having technical difficulties with reading, replying or rating, please let me know so that I can inform the site administrator.In any event, it was a pleasure assisting you and I would be glad to attempt to assist you further on this issue, or a new legal issue, if needed.Very best wishes.