Monday, October 15, 2012

California Filipino Hospital Workers Win Settlement in Language Discrimination Suit

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Filipino nurses play a vital role in the healthcare industry of the United States. For decades, Filipino hospital workers have filled the shortage of manpower in many hospitals in the country. Additionally, according to reports, more than half of American nurses who were trained outside the country are from the Philippines. This only establishes the importance of Filipino hospital staff workers to the country’s medical industry.

Despite the importance of Filipino nurses and other hospital workers to Americans, they are still subjected to discrimination and harassment. In a landmark case recently settled, about 70 Filipino hospital workers in Kern County, California have won settlement for a language discrimination case filed on their behalf by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC).

In the lawsuit filed in 2010, it was said that a group of Filipino hospital workers of Delano Regional Medical Center (DRMC) were subjected to discrimination and hostile working environment after they were targeted by the hospital’s English-only policy.

The said policy allegedly only applied to Filipino workers. The English-only policy of the hospital prohibited Filipino workers from speaking Tagalog or other Filipino languages. In the State of California, English-only policies are not prohibited as long as it is of business necessity.

According to the EEOC, the Filipino hospital workers experienced hostile working environment after they were constantly reminded to speak only in English even during their breaks. Furthermore, the workers claimed that workers who speak other languages were not targeted by the policy.

The federal agency claims that a language-based company policy is considered lawful if it is fairly implemented and does not take effect during employees’ break time. Hence, the actions done by DRMC violated the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on an employee’s national origin and race.

Los Angeles workers who feel that they are being subjected to national origin or race discrimination in the workplace should take necessary actions by consulting with a Los Angeles discrimination lawyer and by filing a formal complaint with the EEOC.


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