Good for her.
Dr. Marilyn Pearson, director of the Johnston County Health Department in North Carolina, made a bold move earlier this month when, on October 1, she issued a company-wide memo demanding that all employees only speak English while conducting job duties.
“For the comfort of employees and to be respectful of others who do not share that language, staff are asked to speak English in the office when not on breaks or personal time,” she wrote.
That rule seems fair, given that English is all but America’s official national language. Plus, she left room for employees to speak in other languages on their own time. She also allowed for employees to speak another language if and when a customer approached them in another language.
Yet according to WRAL, President Barack Obama’s federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was not pleased.
“We assert that employees have the right to speak other languages as long as they do not inconvenience customers or co-workers or cause any trouble for their employer in doing so,” complained James Ryan, a spokesman for the EEOC.
“Especially unacceptable are policies that target one or more ethnic groups for different language rules from others.”
George Eppsteiner, an attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, also complained, calling the ruling “problematic,” as it might make certain employees feel uncomfortable.
Eppsteiner failed to take into consideration that listening to your co-workers speak in another language can be one of the most uncomfortable things in the workplace.
Do employees speak to eachother in other languages at your work place? does it bother you? Do you wonder if they’re talking about you?