The EEOC announced that R & SL, which does business as Total Employment and Management (TEAM), an employment agreed to pay $276,000 to settle a national origin discrimination and retaliation charge stemming from a no-Spanish rule without adequate business justification.
LONGVIEW, Wash. – R & SL, which does business as Total Employment and Management (TEAM), an employment firm based in Washington and Oregon, has agreed to pay $276,000 and take other actions to conciliate a national origin discrimination and retaliation charge filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC, TEAM imposed a no-Spanish rule, without adequate business justification to support it. The agency also alleged five employees were fired from two of the company’s Washington locations for opposing the rule and continuing to speak Spanish.
Such conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits national origin discrimination and retaliation against persons who oppose illegal discrimination. The EEOC considers blanket English-only rules that forbid employees from speaking any other language during the workday, even during breaks or away from customers, to be a form of national origin discrimination.
According to the terms of the four-year conciliation agreement, TEAM will provide $276,000 in monetary relief to the affected employees. In addition, the company agrees to update policies and procedures in English and Spanish; provide an alternative, anonymous complaint process for employees; promptly respond to and investigate complaints of harassment and discrimination; and train all Washington-based employees. The company will also provide periodic updates and reports to the EEOC.
“Employers should think twice before imposing limitations on what languages are ‘allowed’ to be used at work,” said Elizbeth Cannon, director of EEOC’s Seattle Field Office. “Unless there is a legitimate business necessity, such policies are likely to discriminate against workers based on their national origin. We commend TEAM for engaging in the conciliation process and agreeing to take meaningful, comprehensive steps to remedy the issue.”
Headquartered in Moses Lake, Wash. with offices in the state of Washington and Oregon, TEAM provides employees for companies in the Pacific Northwest.
The EEOC’s Seattle Field Office has jurisdiction over Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. More information about national origin discrimination can be found at https://www.eeoc.gov/national-origin-discrimination.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.