Increasing diversity in the workplace has brought many opportunities and challenges. Ensuring effective communication among employees and with customers or vendors is one of them. Some employers have attempted to address the issue by establishing “English only” rules. Such rules must be non-discriminatory, narrow in scope and application, and justified by business necessity. The EEOC takes a dim view of such requirements.
The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) is the latest group to make news in the “English only arena.” It has adopted a new rule that beginning in 2009 requires all golfers who have been on the tour for 2 years to pass a test evaluating spoken English. Apparently there are over 120 international golfers on the tour. Is English essential to be a golf professional? The LPGA says it’s important to attract corporate sponsors. However the issue of discrimination based on national origin has been raised by a number of civil rights groups. They also ask: What about international athletes in other sports? What about American golfers who participate in tournaments outside the U.S? Do they need to learn the local language? Stay tuned. This could get interesting.
For more information on English only rules in the workplace go to the EEOC’s website at: http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/national-origin.html#VC