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What You Should Know About Employer Discrimination Based On Accents

The workplace is becoming a more diverse place and as a result, there are more questions regarding whether or not certain employer practices are discriminatory. For instance, if you have an accent and you believe that you are being discriminated against because of this, you have legal options available to you. Before taking action, here are some things you need to know. 

Can Your Employer Require You to Speak Fluent English?

It is not uncommon for employers to require that employees speak and understand English. However, how fluent an employee needs to be is debatable. For instance, an employee that works with the public would need to be fluent enough to converse with customers. By contrast, an employee who is responsible for cleaning the building might not need to be as fluent. It is because of this, having a fluency requirement level that applies to all employees does not work. It is possible that the courts would consider this to be a discriminatory practice. 

Can Your Employer Require English Only?

In some businesses, employers have requested that employees only speak English during work hours. Some might believe this to be discriminatory because language is closely tied to nationality in many cases. Whether or not it is depends on the reasoning for the policy. For instance, a hospital might require all communications between emergency room employees are in English as a safety concern. The idea being that all employees need to have a clear understanding of one language when communicating about patients or safety concerns in the emergency room. 

However, if an employer is demanding that employees only speak in English during breaks or other personal time, this could be an issue. 

What Should You Do?

The first step in any discrimination case is to contact your business's human resources department. File a complaint regarding the discriminatory practice and allow a period of time for the investigation. The human resources representative who takes your complaint can inform you with a timeline for investigations. 

If you are not satisfied with the results of the investigation and you continue to believe that you are the victim of discrimination, contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC. The agency can take your complaint and investigate your claims. 

There are many other options available to you that depend largely on the results of the EEOC's investigation. Talk to an experienced attorney about the discrimination you have faced and he or she can help you decide how to move forward. Visit for more information.