Need for English as the ‘Common Workplace Language’

ProEnglish Testifies on Need for English as the ‘Common Workplace Language’

Contact: Phil Kent
December 12, 2008
Phone: (404) 257-0542

ARLINGTON, Va.—“It is gratifying to be invited today by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission to give a briefing on the urgent need to specify and protect English as the common language of the workplace,” says K.C. McAlpin, executive director of ProEnglish, a group that advocates making English the official language of the United States.

“The commissioners will hear why it is outrageous when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission targets employers with English language workplace rules for prosecution under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  The EEOC’s claim that there is some ‘close connection’ between language and national origin is nonsense. That may have been true 500 years ago, but in today’s world a person’s primary language is rarely an essential national origin characteristic,” McAlpin says.

“The EEOC’s definition of national origin is totally flawed,” McAlpin says in his testimony. “It makes no difference whether such a rule is applied at all times or only at certain times because the EEOC: 1) has no basis to assert any violation of Title VII where language is concerned; and 2) even less right to presume an employers English workplace policy violates Title VI.”

McAlpin notes the EEOC says an employer must show the language rule is justified by business necessity. “The effect of this qualification,” McAlpin notes, “is to give the agency the discretion to attack any English-on-the-job rule and burden the employer with having to demonstrate business necessity in court.”

McAlpin’s testimony underscores that courts have long recognized an employer’s right to set conditions of employment, including what employees can say on the job,– a right protected by Title VII itself.

“The bottom line,” McAlpin says, “is that in 35 years of court rulings there has not been one English language court decision favoring the EEOC that was ultimately upheld or which is controlling. ProEnglish calls on the Civil Rights Commission to condemn the actions of the EEOC, which actually infringe on the civil rights of employers.”