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Have a Legal Question?
Many ethnic groups complain that they are discriminated against because of their inability to speak English the same way as a television anchor. Their claim is that they are well educated, if in a different language, and are highly qualified for the job in spite of a tendency to speak in broken languages. Lawsuits over this subject are not infrequent, and you might be a worker contemplating action.
From a legal point of view, it is often difficult to prove discrimination. Small employers have limited room for advancement and large firms have many candidates from which to chose. The case in favor of discrimination builds over time. Overt employer hostility is good evidence, but more compelling is a long time without advancement when other workers in a similar track are advancing rapidly.
A case for discrimination exists whenever someone meets qualifications for a promotion but is turned aside due to factors not directly related to work performance. A person can speak English poorly, but can write reports with proper grammar. If their primary task is processing information and grinding through paperwork, then good speaking abilities should be less relevant.
Language is a barrier in many jobs, including reception and management. People who speak broken English might be perfectly educated in their own language, but must still be able to communicate with English-speaking workers in order to assume leadership roles. Employers who pass over advancement for these jobs are reluctant to cite speaking ability, because it does suggest discrimination, but it is a legitimate concern for some positions.
Litigation is not the best approach at first, because there will not be enough evidence to make a case. Employers keep their motives unspoken and undocumented, because they understand that their decisions provoke negative feelings when there are many applicants. They wish to survive litigation and have well formulated strategies for avoiding incriminating behavior. Proving discrimination in the modern workplace often requires a long stretch of observation and stacking facts against available opportunities.
Suing an employer carries some risk. All private legal action is paid for by the plaintiff and defendant and often by the losing party. While taking a case to court is not supposed to bias future job prospects, careless litigation does create negative feelings. It should be regarded as the last step in resolving a complicated problem, because other steps can be more profitable to everyone in the long run.
Our team is uniquely prepared to represent your interests. Call us at 312.332.6733 today or contact our Chicago office online.