WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Seven female employees in a health clinic in Haines City, Florida have accused their employee of banning them from speaking Spanish at work.
- Bay News 9 reports that the complainants, all of whom are Puerto Ricans, claimed that their employer had been hounding them of their decision to speak English.
- The women, who are all bilingual, say that Haines City residents being mostly Hispanic is the reason why they were employed in the first place.
The employer of a Florida Department of Health clinic in Haines City was accused of prohibiting their employees from speaking Spanish at work, according to Bay News 9 reports.
For over a year, the seven complainants, who are all female and Puerto Rican, said management has been badgering them over their decision to speak the second-most spoken language in the U.S.
“It feels like you’re a criminal, like you’re doing something that is wrong,” said a nurse at the clinic, Mairyli Miranda.
City-Data.com reports that residents in Haines City are 40 percent Hispanic, which the women, who are all bilingual, say was one of the reasons why they were initially hired.
Maria Rivera, a clerk at the office said that always take into account when someone’s nearby or in the room who don’t speak their language. “We’re very respectful. We speak their language out of courtesy. It’s just a right.”
Another nurse at the clinic, Laura Rivera, said they just want someone who can be a good leader adding, “Because if you can’t work with different cultures, I think you’re not a good person to be a leader.”
English-only rules can possibly breach federal laws unless they are “justified by business necessity”, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Meanwhile, activist groups like Alianza for Progress and La Mesa Boricua de Florida have intervened to fight for the women’s rights to speak Spanish since the issue had gone public. The employees also said that although they have filed a complaint with the Polk County Health Department, they have yet to receive a response.