Joseph ranted about the latest Ken Blackwell nonsense this morning, but I feel compelled to reply as well. This one is all about how the poor little Salvation Army is being sued for discriminating against employees who weren’t fluent in English, when in fact, by practicing discriminatory hiring practices they are allegedly doing immigrants a favor!

Well, [Gomer Pyle] suprise-suprise-surprise! [/Gomer Pyle], Ken neglected to mention a few important things.

?Under Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC?s) guidelines, an English-only rule violates the law unless the employer can provide a legitimate business justification for forcing employees to stop speaking their native language,?? said Estela D?z, trial attorney for the EEOC?s New York District Office. ?The Salvation Army presented no such justification.??

Requiring employees to speak English where no business necessity exists constitutes national origin discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The suit seeks monetary relief, an order requiring the company to implement new policies and practices eradicating past discrimination, and a permanent injunction against such offenses in the future.

Title VII very clearly lays out what can and cannot be considered discriminatory in hiring practices. You are allowed to discriminate by language spoken, provided a justification can be provided. “Just because” doesn’t fit the bill.

First generation immigrants to any country often have a hard time picking up the native language. Their kids are bilingual, and their grandkids are often not fluent in the original tongue. That pattern holds with hispanic immigrants to the US, too. They, like most immigrants, feel that learning English is important, but learning new languages as an adult – especially English – can be very very difficult.

1 in 4 first-generation hispanic immigrants consider themselves able to speak English “proficiently”. 9 in 10 second generation immigrants say the same about themselves. If anything, adoption of English is occurring at a faster rate than ever before.

So no, the xenophobic “English Only” movement isn’t really necessary. Those dark-skinned foreigners aren’t going to come in and make us all speak Spanglish. Really. Not happening. Promise.

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