Feds Issue Guidelines For ‘English-Only’ Workplaces

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is looking to curb a rise in workplace discrimination complaints against non-English speakers.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is looking to curb a rise in workplace discrimination complaints against non-English speakers.

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Federal officials say more people in the workforce are claiming discrimination because of their English-speaking ability or foreign accents.

In Utah, a FedEx contract driver who says he was fired because of his Russian accent recently filed a federal lawsuit. Across the country, other workers have won large settlements claiming they were harassed or reprimanded for speaking in foreign languages or accents.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says workplace discrimination complaints based on national origin — which often involve language ability — have nearly doubled since 1997.

The agency attributes the trend to a more ethnically diverse labor force and says it has issued new guidelines on when employers can enforce English-only rules.

Civil-rights advocates say workplace environments have grown more hostile in states enacting tough new immigration laws.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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