HAINES CITY, Fla. (CBS Local) — A group of health care workers at a state-run health clinic in Florida say they’ve been told to stop speaking Spanish among themselves or risk being fired.
Seven nurses and clerks at the Florida Health Department clinic in Haines City say they are being harassed by management for speaking Spanish at work.
“It feels like you’re a criminal, like you’re doing something that is wrong,” said Mairylí Miranda, a nurse who has lived in Florida for 15 years.
All seven of the workers are Puerto Rican and claim they were hired because they are bilingual. Haines has a relatively high Hispanic population.
“We speak in English to the monolingual patients and staff, but we speak Spanish with each other because we think in Spanish. But one day they gathered us all together and warned us that if we continued to do so, we would be fired,” Miranda said in a statement. “But there is no law that bans us from speaking Spanish.”
The workers filed a complaint with the Polk County Health Department and wrote a letter to the Florida Department of Health headquarters in Tallahassee. But they say no action has been taken.
The Florida Health Department has not yet responded to multiple requests for comment.