IT Employment optimize

Tennessee passes law allowing English-only workplaces

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen signed a bill into law that permits English-only policies in the workplace.

According to Workforce.com, Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen signed into law a bill that permits English-only policies in the workplace:

The law, which the governor signed last week, states that it is not discriminatory for an employer to institute a policy that requires all employees to speak only English "at certain times when the employer has a legitimate business necessity for such a policy, including but not limited to the safe and efficient operation of the employer's business."

The law, which becomes effective immediately, requires employers to provide notice to employees of the policy and the consequences of violating it.

What do you think about this development?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

64 comments
TheSwabbie
TheSwabbie

When people come to a Country and expect to ASSIMILATE.. they LEARN THE LANGUAGE!! If even a "citizen" cannot speak English.. we have a problem! SCREW the ILLEGALS.. they dont belong here in the 1st place.. I dont give a damn if they can speak it.

Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

Americans don't speak English, they speak a dialect of English. Do you get where I'm going with this buckaroo?

jdclyde
jdclyde

when I go into the language controls of WinXp, it is listed as English, and lord knows that MS is never wrong...... :D

LouCed
LouCed

Seen folks speak in other languages to purposely exclude others and to disrespect other employees and management. OTOH, having sales people and support folks that can speak other languages might be a plus, depending on your business.

JackOfAllTech
JackOfAllTech

There is nothing wrong with maintaining your heritage at home; my parents taught my brother and me to speak German, we went to a German baptist church, and we lived in a predominantly German neighborhood - BUT - you can do that and still embrace your new home country's culture. Both my grandparents and parents learned English, so did all my aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Firedrake
Firedrake

My parents were both 1st-generation Americans (all 4 of my grandparents having been born in Italy, and immigrating). Though both my parents grew up speaking English and Italian, they refused to speak Italian around our house, because they DIDN'T want us kids to learn it. They were afraid being bi-lingual would present a social stigma in the Deep South where I grew up.

SKDTech
SKDTech

As far as I am concerned anyone wishing to live and work in the US should have to learn English. Some would call me racist but we are the only country I know of that does not require this of immigrants anymore.

neilb
neilb

Although new immigrants into the UK from outside of the European Union are going to have to speak some English, migrants from the EU have free access and not only is English not a requirement, we cannot by EU law use their inability to speak English for any form of discrimination. We cannot apply a language test as part of any job interview or use lack of English as a reason not to employ someone from the EU, even doctors. It really has got a bit multiculturally mad over here. London borough Haringey's Council translates documents into most of the 193 different languages spoken in the area. And we pay for it.

Andy P Roberts
Andy P Roberts

Since the same European rules apply to all EU countries that 28 countries so far that allow immigration that don't speak the local language. (Then there are bi-/multi-lingual countries that dont require people to speak both/all the local languages). The 193 languages is mad but that's Haringey - most areas have a realisically limited number. Doesn't true democracy require some translation to allow all voters an equal vote - or is an 'all votes are equal but some votes are more equal than others' ok.

neilb
neilb

then requires translation into all 193 and Braille and some sort of method to gather in and inform the illiterate - potentially all of that 193. If you can work out how THAT can be done, then feel free to get onto the moral high ground and kick everyone else in the teeth from there. Then again, we could ask people to be a little more responsible for their own inactions and just produce the forms in English. If we start to translate into, say, Bengali because we have a significant proportion of the population speak only that then we have to justify not translating into Amharic for the few dozen speakers or to languages even more obscure for the one or two speakers. I have to be completely honest and say that I wouldn't want to pay my council tax for the translation of anything from English. I'm sure I do, though as the Greater London Authority translates routinely all of its documents into ten languages (only Greek from the EU language set!). It's my belief that has the effect of perpetuating the linguistic separation which is part of the alienation and ghettoisation of ethnic minorities for those groups included. The excluded groups have to make their own way and, I would suggest, probably benefit in the long run.

JamesRL
JamesRL

I've seen some municipalities post election notices in other languages but there is no legal obligation to do so, nor should there be. We do have bilingual requirements for Federal services, but the Feds don't force the provinces or municipalities to follow suit. James

jdclyde
jdclyde

that is EXACTLY what you get. And people wonder why I am against the new world order some are pushing, or even considering giving the UN a say in ANYTHING domestic.

Jellimonsta
Jellimonsta

The old non English speaking Doctor. Very reassuring. :p

TheChas
TheChas

It is sad that the reality of this law is to protect companies from being sued for having English only policies. Good to see a legislature support business though. I am glad to see this happening. The large flood of European immigrants in the late 1800's and early 1900's made sure that their children learned English in school. And then taught English to the rest of the family. They tried to fit in and meld into the communities they moved into. I wish the law went even further and forbid state and local governments from having bilingual policies. If immigrants do not want to learn to read and speak English, they should stay where they came from. Chas

Andy P Roberts
Andy P Roberts

What sad people you sound - let's hope you stay in your pure little ghettos and don't bother the real world.

MomtoJustin
MomtoJustin

Once you take away borders, language or culture, you have another Tower of Babel.

BubbaGlock
BubbaGlock

what happened to those folks building the tower.

jdclyde
jdclyde

yes, we have been hearing all about how well your current immigrant status in the UK is working out so wonderfully. Too bad you don't clean your own backyard before looking over the fence and crying at your neighbors.

BubbaGlock
BubbaGlock

That political correctness has gotten out of hand. We are catering to a group that pays no taxes (ie illegals) yet the hard working folks have to pay MORE taxes to have bilingual documentation, signage, etc in addition to free healthcare, assistance, etc. We will not allow illegal immigrants to take over our country. We will emerge from our little ghettos and protect it.

BubbaGlock
BubbaGlock

You are saying that employers are hiring illegals with fake SS numbers? That is illegal. But evidently, many people do not understand the definition of illegal, even our so called president. So illegal is relative, based on whether or not we think it should apply to certain individuals or situations. No wonder this country is going down the toilet, on its way to 3rd world status.

Ocie3
Ocie3

They pay the same sales tax as everyone else who buys taxable goods and services. When they pay the rent, they're paying a part of the taxes that are levied on the property, usually by the county, city, utility district, and/or the school district. Or are you one of those people who believe that only the landlords "pay property taxes" when, in fact, they just collect them from their tenants and forward the amount to the tax collector. A landlord only pays the tax on vacant units, perhaps an empty house. Many illegal immigrants also pay annual auto registration fees, even if it is usually not for a new or recently-new vehicle. Employers withhold income taxes from their paychecks. But the vast majority of illegal immigrants never file a tax return to claim the refund which they are due, for fear of being deported. And employers always deduct the worker's FICA (Social Security) tax from their paychecks, regardless of whether the employer actually pays it to the SSA along with their half of the contribution. Not doing that is, of course, one reason that the employer hires illegal immigrants instead of established US citizens.

wbranch
wbranch

Since you're from the UK, I'll assume things may not work exactly the same over there. The reality is, this kind of law needs to be passed in the US because we live in such a litigious society. There are jobs where everyone needs to speak the same language, and be clear on communication, or someone gets hurt or killed. However, I can guarantee you there will be some slip-and-fall lawyer who will file a lawsuit against a company who forces its workers to communicate in English only, because it's discriminatory. This law is merely protection for employers who need to enforce clear communications among employees. It's not a law to force people to forget their native language if it's not English or lose their heritage, it's just a common-sense law that has to be passed because in America, common-sense does not rule the day.

Drew M
Drew M

They should pass this on to federal

cheesel_z
cheesel_z

....and also Aviation. Bottom line--if you want to get ahead, learn English here. If you want to REALLY be ahead, though, I would suggest English and Chinese or Hindi.

Firedrake
Firedrake

"In English and German I know how to count down. And I'm learning Chinese!" said Werner von Braun.

MomtoJustin
MomtoJustin

...the US Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Gettyburg Address, Shakespeare's works, the Articles of Confederation, the Federalist Papers and many other great things.

maxwell edison
maxwell edison

No es muy a menudo cuando lo hacemos.

TheChas
TheChas

I guess I will never know what you have posted to this thread. I turned strong anti bi-lingual many years ago when a friend related that he had to be careful where he worked because some words have very different meanings in the different spanish dialects spoken by the factory workers at the plant he was working at. Chas

RFink
RFink

Cuando en Roma, haz lo que vieres.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

It would never occur to me to permanently relocate to a non-English-speaking country and make no attempt to learn to speak and read the local language.

Ocie3
Ocie3

of towns and communities in the USA in which English is not "the local language". If you don't speak Spanish, then you must find an interpreter to do some things, such as have your car repaired. I've been in such a town where a Chinese restaurant had the menu written in Spanish on the left-hand page and in Chinese on the right-hand page. Fortunately, one of my companions spoke Cantonese fluently (as did the waitress), and he could read Chinese well enough to understand the menu. But most governments still employ people who speak English and some who are bilingual, and the medical staff of hospitals and most clinics are primarily English-speaking, whether many also speak Spanish.

Andy P Roberts
Andy P Roberts

I doubt that is true - the British were famous for moving to countries and not learning the language - I bet Americans are just as bad. When in a strange place we are drawn to people similar to ourselves - people who speak English often don't need to learn the local language so don't bother.

LouCed
LouCed

Seen that a bunch, American tourist who will just speak slower and louder, as that will make English understandable to all :)

santeewelding
santeewelding

Unless as an occupying force. Then, it's the other way around, or else.

LouCed
LouCed

It's what happens when you lose the wars.

Jaqui
Jaqui

we need that law up here. in a big way.

mandai75
mandai75

Yes, we need it in my country also

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

... can force me to speak VB, then where's the hardship in having to speak English? I'm not in the English-only camp, but I can readily see the business need to speak one language in the workplace.

jkoecke
jkoecke

I'm sure you don't have any pressing issues to legislate.

Kenone
Kenone

Good enuf fer me

MomtoJustin
MomtoJustin

...but English wasn't around when Jesus lived. Uh, he spoke, I believe, Aramaic. Now please stop with the stereotypes.

Firedrake
Firedrake

I once heard a Baptist preacher (talking about making/breaking promises, I think)say, "Jesus never said, 'Verily, verily, I say unto thee...' " The congregation was aghast at this blasphemy against The Word, until he followed it up with, "Jesus didn't even speak English!"

ajblackx
ajblackx

I am guessing that you were being sarcastic? It is doubtful that Jesus ever existed. If he did exist he would have spoken Aramaic.

Ocie3
Ocie3

in the New American Bible, St. Joseph Edition, all of the "principal" books of the New Testament were "redacted" by the end of the first century A.D.. I suppose they use the term "redacted" because some of the books are collections of shorter texts which were written at different times, and subsequently recorded as if they were a single work ([i]e.g.,[/i] on a single scroll).

MomtoJustin
MomtoJustin

read Tacitus and Josephus. We know there was a guy named Jesus living then, but what we do not have is a test for divinity.

Fregeus
Fregeus

Its funny how we interpret what one person may write about in a book. Darwin did not say that we come from monkeys, he wrote that through the theory of evolution it is quite conceivable that we and the monkeys share a common ancestor. And yes, we have proof of that. Its called DNA, you should look it up. What we don't have, is any proof of the existence of a man named Jesus that lived approximately 2000 years ago (where did you get 2500???) and if it wasn't for the religion that grew from it, the books, that were not written by the apostles by the way because we know they were written in the second century, wouldn't of stood the test of time. Mass belief does not make truths. I don't dismiss the book and the religion because it cramps my lifestyle. I live my life according to the same principles as the catholic religion. I just don't believe I need to "thank" and "worship" a deity in order to do it. Especially since we have proof that nature started all on its own. TCB

BubbaGlock
BubbaGlock

Its funny how we believe what one person may write about it a book, such as Darwin who says we came from monkeys (and there is no proof), yet there were hundreds of witnesses who saw Jesus and the book about his life has withstood the test of time (over 2500 years or so and distributed in many languages) but some folks just seem to want to conveniently dismiss it because it may cramp their self absorbed lifestyle.

Kenone
Kenone

Not many people know that. His name would have been Yeshua btw.

Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

What if the purpose of the work place is to teach foreign languages? How about the Latin in fields like law and medicine? Could a consultant be arrested for cashing a per diem check?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

It allows employers to dictate when only English will be used. Obviously, if the goal of the workplace is to teach foreign languages, the employer would not mandate that only English be spoken.

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

When you're on his dime, you'll do as he wants, or you won't be on his dime.

Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

So, it's okay to say y'all or it's Yankee equivellent, you'se-guys. ;-)

JamesRL
JamesRL

In Quebec the official language of the workplace is French. So software, documentation, memos, invoices etc etc. All must be in French, or if they are bilingual, French must be predominant. The details though don't preclude English from being used at calls centres for example. Or service agents can work with someone in English, if that is the preference of the person seeking service. One funny example that happened to me was when I got a speeding ticket in Quebec. I forgot to pay it on time, and they sent a bilingual notice. On the english side, they said my only option was to go to a government office in person during business hours (in the province of Quebec, which is hundreds of miles from me). On the French side they also offered the option of going to a website and paying by credit card. Years of French classes came in handy. I wondered whether it was an error or a deliberate snub to Anglophones. James

Fregeus
Fregeus

First of all, the winter Olympics just finished in your town. You cannot say that the Quebec Athletes where all druggies who refuse to speak English. I saw them on English TV and Radio and they did quite well thank you. You cannot take a few bad examples and generalize the whole population based on those "bad apples". That's bigotry and its beneath you. You are an educated, intelligent individual and you should know better. I do not generalize the English Canadian population based on your actions right now, because I know you better and I know that you don't represent the whole country. As far as the Bloc is concerned, they're extremist with which I don't agree. Quebec is a Province within Canada, period. Their rhetoric is based on antiquated facts that are irrelevant today. But there will always be extremist in everything. Again, don't judge the whole tribe by what the chief does. Like English Canada, our leaders are not always the brightest bunch. In Conclusion, I did not send those "kids" out West. Its not my fault you guys have a great Pot reputation. But bottom line, don't think because you see some potheads from Quebec, that all Quebecers are potheads. Thank you TCB

Jaqui
Jaqui

the majority of the "kids" on the streets on the west coast, are from Quebec, and when they get here [ and for years after-wards ] can only speak Canadian French. Since no-one but these "kids" ever makes it to the west coast, they are the example of the people in Quebec that we have to work with. You want the rest of Canada to NOT have a poor opinion of Quebec, send something other than drug addicts and bums to the rest of Canada. The Quebec citizens that we see do nothing to give Quebec a good reputation. The insanity of the leader of the Bloc calling the PROVINCE of Quebec the NATION of Quebec on National TV also doesn't help. [ the leaders debate for the last federal election he did exactly that, and it rubs every resident of the other provinces and territories the wrong way to hear comments like that. ]

Fregeus
Fregeus

Can you be more of a bigot please? What the hell have I done to you to be called such things? TCB

Jaqui
Jaqui

a deliberate snub. them there queerbecers gots no respect for anyone not in queerbec. ;) lazy drug addicted bums in that province.[ at least, with the lazy drug addicted bums living on the streets here from there, that's he only thing in quebec, drug addicts and bums that expect the entire world to kiss their asses and speak quebecese. ]