Feds say workplace discrimination complaints rising over language ability, foreign accents

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  • Sqweebie Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 1, 2013 7:49 p.m.

    second try - thanks to a law being passed by either the senate or congress in the 70s a person who does not speak english can sue for discrimination if they are not hired because they don't speak english fluently. On the other hand a person whose only language is english can not sue on the same grounds if an employer wants its employees to speak only spanish even though they deal with english speaking clients on a daily basis. There are such places here in Utah and one of them has offices nationwide but it's not necessary to be bilingual to work in a majority of those offices.

  • EDM Castle Valley, Utah
    Jan. 1, 2013 4:48 p.m.

    Cris, I DO get frustrated sometimes when I can't understand the other person. But my point is that I see such intolerance in Americans all the time that it is entirely believable to me that the gentleman in the article, a truck driver, got fired for his accent. A man with a job (of the type that requires infrequent communication) became jobless, probably because someone was unwilling to try to understand him.

    Yarrlydarb is so right! I have lived and worked overseas my entire adult life. No one behaves like Amercans when it comes to this.

    And, by the way, how many foreigners come to Utah and find it difficult to understand us because of our own local dialect? - as if ours is the King's standard.

  • M.Sanchez Salt Lake City, Utah
    Jan. 1, 2013 11:41 a.m.

    In the community that I live in, Taylorsville, there are a lot of accents from the real immigrants. Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Korea China, Japan, Australian, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Greece, Russia, Germany, France, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Albania, Italy, Spain, England, Somalia, South Africa, Mexico, El Salvador, Chile, Brazil, Guatemala, Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, Navajo, Dakota, Ute, Shoshone, Etc. These nations are where many of the people I know are from.

    Some times at a local Coffee Club you can listen to various national accents around one table. The language in common so we can all understand each other is English in all the various stages of learning. It wonderful for me to listen to, the sharing of ideas, opinions from all these people. I also work on learning to talk (at least say hello)in these various languages.

    It would be sad to allow the racist policies of various Hispanic activist organizations as they promote their cause of Spanish only speaking illegal aliens to drown out the rich accents of people from other nations.

  • cris Hamilton, IL
    Jan. 1, 2013 5:27 a.m.

    So Edm are you telling me that you never get frustrated when you can't understand the person on the other end of the line?
    Wow I' impressed.

  • Brer Rabbit Spanish Fork, UT
    Dec. 31, 2012 6:35 p.m.

    Now that those that believe that "diversity" is better for a country than "unity" have taken full control, we can only expect this situation to worsen. Not much we can do about it. I would be happy just to hear good English spoken by native born Americans.

    The sad thing is that children of immigrants are not learning to speak good English, which will harm them when they try to get a job. Also, English is the closest to being an international language than anything else. This doesn't make English a better language, but it does give the English speaker an advantage world wide.

    Probably what angers most of those in the comments above is that they are tired of being pushed aside and told to accommodate the immigrants by giving them special treatment. If the job situation doesn't soon improve this feeling of being pushed aside will worsen.

  • danaslc Kearns, UT
    Dec. 31, 2012 6:24 p.m.

    The citizens need to learn how to speak the foreign language. I am not so sure that the United States belongs to us anymore. I know Utah does not belong to us anymore. We just pay all the bills. It is awful to be used like this.

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    Dec. 31, 2012 6:23 p.m.

    As a person whose native language is not English (mine is Spanish), I feel stupid for putting in all that work to learn English. Turns out I could have just sued somebody for discrimination.

    I have a bit of an accent that I'll probably never get rid of. But I'm proud of it - it reminds me of who I am and where I'm from.

    Dec. 31, 2012 5:42 p.m.

    BYUAlum, exactly what language is it that your Scots ancestors spoke if not English?

    And for the record, speaking with an accent is not the same thing as not speaking English. I'm sure we all have terrible accents when we attempt to speak another language and most of thsoe we speak to are kind and patient.

  • Te Amo Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 31, 2012 5:27 p.m.

    There can be no assimulation into our culture without adoption of english as the primary and only officially recognized language. It's the only way we can become one people. Nothing but english in the schools, business and official documentation at all levels. No more push 1 for english.

  • yarrlydarb Ogden, UT
    Dec. 31, 2012 5:05 p.m.

    There used to be a lot of jokes from Americans going to France and being treated badly because they didn't speak French well enough. I remember Jay Leno ridiculing the French over and over for how they mistreated Americans.

    Guess what. We here in America are worse than anywhere else in the world! I know; I've traveled extensively and have first hand knowledge of the fact.

    Americans are the worst. And to think that the great majority of us have ancestors who did not speak English at all!

    Pretty high and mighty we are, I'd say.

  • DanO Mission Viejo, CA
    Dec. 31, 2012 5:03 p.m.

    If you're calling a company and can't understand the person who answers, chances are it's because the company outsourced their call center to another country. (Usually, India.) Blame the company, not the person on the phone.

  • BYUalum South Jordan, UT
    Dec. 31, 2012 4:51 p.m.

    When I am on the phone with a person who has a hard time speaking clear English with a hard-to-understand-accent, I say, "May I speak with someone who speaks English?" If that goes nowhere, I say, "May I please speak to your supervisor?" If they ask why, I politely reply, I can't understand what you are saying. Then I explain to the supervisor that if they want my business, they had better hire people who can communicate with me in English. As a customer, I have that right.

    I also think English should be the official language of our country. My ancestry came from Denmark and Scotland in the mid 1800's. Nowhere in their histories did they require people to call them Danish Americans or Scottish Americans. Not knowing this country's language, they learned English and taught their children English. Why? They were proud to be citizens of the United States of America! So am I. Thank you for the legacy great grandparents.

  • Ett Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 31, 2012 11:59 a.m.

    EDRM, it isn't boorish to expect a foreign born worker to learn the language. He or she chose a job here, and the language spoken is english. The employer hired them to work, not to accommodate their lack of language skills. If the employee is unable or unwilling to better those skills, they should find a job that doesn't require them.
    People born here and already speak the language are expected to improve their skills to obtain better employment. Foreign born employees should expect no less.
    For the record, California made huge attempts to accommodate foreigners. Now they have an absolute mess, trying to cover a dozen languages.
    These employees aren't suffering discrimination. They reaping the rewards of their own failings.

  • EDM Castle Valley, Utah
    Dec. 31, 2012 9:30 a.m.

    Gosh, Cris, good luck setting the terms of all your interactions based on your demands.

    This is what I see all the time: Boorish Americans unwilling to even try to accommodate hard-working non-native English speakers. I only wish good luck in their claims to those who have suffered discrimination.

  • Say No to BO Mapleton, UT
    Dec. 31, 2012 7:35 a.m.

    Here's my story. I was out of work and applied for a census job. Mission Spanish plus two years of college-level credits on my transcript.
    They called me looking to fill a community coordinator position. The woman in the phone interview didn't speak Spanish and asked me a few questions. She said I'd hear from them in a couple of days.
    Another woman called back the next day. She said they were looking for someone with "more Spanish." The funny thing about it was that no one had even tested me; not even a couple of phrases over the phone.
    I complained to the EEOC. They reviewed the case and told me I didn't follow the instructions on the poster on the wall at the application site.
    Did I mention that the woman who told me I needed "more Spanish," was the former president of the local LULAC chapter?
    Don't complain to me about fairness.

  • cris Hamilton, IL
    Dec. 31, 2012 5:48 a.m.

    I'm sorry but these people need to speak the language. I' m so tired of calling on the phone to fix problems only to end up talking to someone that I can't understand.