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Bilingual Discrimination in the Workplace

Updated on November 14, 2012

It exists.

While bilingual discrimination happens legally because discriminating via a language is perceived as such, unlike, gender, age, race etc. My former hub on this topic had many responses from those who support it and those who call it discrimination in favor of Spanish. That hub was unpublished because of some hate speech, slurs after being posted for two years-so, I will delete any comments like those.

Look, because of the large numbers of Hispanics in the border states and elsewhere there now and those crossing the border legally or illegally, businesses, like the politicians, are catering to this large block of consumers. Many stores like Macy's, Kohl's, all have signage in both languages. All packaging of goods seems to embrace bilingualism, this has been happening more and more in the past few years. To those enterprises, the Hispanics are a large consumer block, so , instead of forcing them to learn English, they print Spanish on the labels etc. After all, they still spend American dollars. The same occurs in department stores. I understand that.

However, when a lesser job skilled candidate secures employment because they are either Hispanic or knows Spanish (btw, many Hispanics do not know Spanish, so don't automatically presume they do) then, I call it language discrimination. More and more, employers are using the language "skill" to weed out job applicants. They are blatant about it: "bilingual preferred", "must speak Spanish". Of course, all of the other "outlawed" discriminations continue to happen as well, just camouflaged in different language, "you have good skill sets, but, we just feel it was not a good fit".

Yes, I know many of those that do speak Spanish claim it is yet another job skill one needs. Why? Most 2nd generation Hispanics speak English. There is this myth that they don't. It is okay to require English only in a business, or are they going to say, that is discrimination? Twenty years ago, that was the case in most places. The burden was on the Hispanic to learn English to be able to function. The requirement still exists if they wish to become a US citizen, yet, as soon as they do, they lose the skill because most of their world is in Spanish (TV, radio, newspaper, shopping). So, maybe the requirement to know English to become a US citizen should be eliminated?

At Kaiser hospitals, highly experiences nurses and others are being replaced or displaced by lesser experienced and skilled people who speak Spanish also, thus the quality is diminishing. Why? because so many of Kaiser's members are Hispanic. They walk in and just presume whomever they talk to knows Spanish. There is no expectation of English.

The bilingual job requirement is yet another sad thing happening in the workplace because in many places the Hispanic population is large. Numbers dictate how many businesses operate. If, instead of Hispanics, the population was Russian, you can bet the language required would be Russian.

Learning Spanish as a job skill requires a good few years to become conversational in it, even then, it is not as good as a native speaker. This new discrimination is causing more unemployment for many.


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