ARLINGTON, Va.— ProEnglish, the nation’s leading official English advocacy group, condemns the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for suing a private American company for firing employees over their inability to speak English in the workplace. ProEnglish is also offering assistance to Wisconsin Plastics Inc., which the EEOC falsely accuses of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on “national origin.”
“The EEOC is acting illegally and is abusing its statutory authority by prosecuting employers like the Green Bay-based Wisconsin Plastics which require employees to communicate in English,” says ProEnglish Executive Director Robert Vandervoort. “By filing this latest lawsuit the EEOC is not only violating the rights of employers to run their businesses, it is also violating the rights of employees to work in a safe, non-threatening work environment.”
“Since the fired workers were of Hispanic and Asian origin, the EEOC claims there is a close connection between language and ‘national origin,’” Vandervoort continues. “But in the 21st century a person’s primary language is rarely an essential national origin characteristic.”
“In 40 years of court cases there has not been a single ruling supporting the EEOC’s interpretation that was ultimately upheld, or which is controlling: not one supports the EEOC’s language equals national origin notion. To cite just one example, a few years ago the EEOC settled its lawsuit against the Salvation Army that left the Army’s English-on-the-job policy intact. The courts have long recognized an employer’s right to set conditions of employment, including what employees can say on the job— a right, by the way PROTECTED by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act,” Vandervoort concludes.