It seems that traditional service organizations now have perpetual bulls-eyes pasted on them. If it’s not the Boy Scouts being evicted from Balboa Park for defying the creed of political correctness, it’s the Salvation Army facing an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit for requiring employees to speak English on the job.
The suit against the bell-ringing charity was filed in March of this year and concerns a thrift store in Framingham, Massachusetts that fired two employees for violating an English-only policy. The EEOC sued the organization even though the employees had been given a year’s notice and despite a ruling four years earlier by a federal judge in Boston that upheld the group’s English-only policy—a rule the court found promoted “workplace harmony.”
(North County business owners might like to know that the EEOC filed over 200 anti-English-only suits last year and that exemptions are granted based on the agency’s standard for “compelling business necessity.” Apparently, the ability to understand what employees are saying about their employer or other employees isn’t “compelling” in the eyes of EEOC mandarins.)
In order to save businesses from this innovative bureaucratic interpretation of “civil rights” law, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) introduced legislation that protects employers with English-only policies from EEOC lawsuits. The provision passed both the Senate (75-19) and the House (218-186) but was killed when the House Hispanic Caucus threatened to derail critical tax legislation if Speaker Pelosi allowed the Alexander amendment (which was attached to a huge appropriations bill) to survive in committee.
So as things now stand, thanks to Caucus Chair Joe Baca (D-Calif.), the EEOC can bring employers to court for their English-only policies, and those businesses will either have to kowtow to bureaucrat lawyers or face litigation costs.
Meanwhile, as a recent Rasmussen poll indicates, Americans overwhelming support (77% to 14%) an employer’s right to set English-only standards in the workplace. (Seventy-seven, by the way, is also the percentage of Americans that oppose giving drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants—an electoral consensus that recently turned the political heads of Sen. Hillary Clinton and New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and that, in 2003, helped depose Gov. Gray Davis.)
Another Rasmussen poll found 87% of Americans agreeing that it is “very important” to speak English in the United States. Indeed, that sentiment is so widespread among Latinos that TV Azteca, Mexico’s second largest network, has scheduled a 60-hour series of English classes for its U.S. affiliates. Apparently the network doesn’t see English proficiency as a racist stalking horse but rather, as anchor Jose Samano asserts, a tool by which immigrants can increase their incomes by 50% or more.
Nevertheless, the EEOC, some Hispanic groups, and a persistent bi-lingual education lobby in California seem determined to undermine those cultural forces that have helped to integrate newcomers into American society. After all, for interest groups that profit from keeping Latinos in manageable barrios, Gov. Schwarzenegger’s advice to immigrants to immerse themselves in English amounts to political poison.