How to Avoid National Origin Lawsuits, six tips and some examples

by on January 5, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

6 tips for handling multiple-language issues in the workplace

Multilingual workforces present both challenges and opportunities. How can you make sure the latter outweigh the former in your company?

While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, here are a few things other firms have tried with success:

    · Encouraging workers with shaky English-language skills to take English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. You may consider allowing time off for classes or study.
    · Pairing workers with limited English with mentors who speak their home language.
    · Posting bi- or multi-lingual lists of most-used work terms and phrases.
    · Using an online translation service.
    · Preparing safety and/or operations manuals in the appropriate second or third languages.
    · Making sure everyone understands that while workers may be required to speak English in certain work situations, they’re free to revert to their home language for personal talk.

Favoritism in discipline equals obvious national origin discrimination

Here’s more evidence that it’s crucial for managers to not show favoritism in disciplining workers: It gives plaintiffs a ready-made case for a national origin discrimination lawsuit.

Three French waiters insist they were fired because of anti-French sentiment in a $30-a-burger restaurant in New York City called 21 Club.

The restaurant said they were fired for drinking on the job and for insubordination after an argument. The waiters argued that other non-French waiters were repeatedly excused for drinking on the job.

Company paid for supervisor’s conduct

Here’s another case where management failed to act on an employee’s complaint that her supervisor had harassed her. As a result, the company – not the harasser – paid a big price in a national origin discrimination lawsuit .

An Hispanic Holiday Inn employee was subjected to ethnic slurs by her supervisor. She filed a complaint with HR, but the harassment didn’t stop.

Finally, she complained to the EEOC, which initiated a lawsuit.

Holiday Inn settled the case by paying the employee $90,000.

Cite: EEOC v. Holiday Inn Rolling Meadows.

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