What’s Wrong with the World

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They Get You Coming...

And they get you going.

Therefore they get you.

Case in point:

In 2007, the EEOC sued the Salvation Army when it tried to enforce its "English-only" rule - i.e., its rule requiring employees to speak only English while on the job - in its Thrift Store in Framingham, Massachussetts.

So why not, you may ask? Isn't that just being nasty? If you have employees who are more comfortable communicating with one another in Spanish, then why not let them? Who does it hurt?

Well, here's why not: because the EEOC also holds employers responsible for what their employees say, when it comes to claims of sexual &/or racial harassment. Which results in grotesque situations like this:

"A roulette worker at Foxwoods [Casino] came up the big loser when he bet that nine women gathered around his table - including an NYPD sergeant, FBI special agent and a Long Island cop - couldn't understand the gross comments he was making about them in Spanish.

"It turned out the party also included Michelle Margliano, a businesswoman who used to teach bilingual education and was able to comprende every disgusting word...

"...Marigliano was stunned to hear two Hispanic employees spinning the roulette ball and handling chips making highly off-color remarks in Spanish."

[Sample: "These (expletive deleted)'s need a big (expletive deleted) to loosen them up and then maybe these (expletive deleted)'s would tip better.]

So these nine women have now filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against - wait for it - the casino.

That's right - the casino. Not the offending employees, at least one of whom was apparently fired on the spot. The casino. Because the employer gets held responsible for whatever his employees say - even if they say it in a language he doesn't understand.

Obvious solution for employers? Never hire an employee who speaks a language that you don't speak yourself. Because the EEOC will (a) sue you if you forbid him to speak that language on the job, and (b) smile upon those who sue you if he says anything offensive in that language.

Hat tip to James Fulford.

Comments (8)

I never thought the Salvation Army was just being nasty to begin with. But you make an excellent point.

It's been many years since labor law in the United States was consistent or even remotely just to the employer. I remember being rather shocked at a section in Bork's _Tempting of America_ about an employer that was sued either for exposing females to radiation which might be bad for them if pregnant or for removing them from that job and putting them on another job that was somehow worse for their career. I noticed that Bork didn't even seem particularly bothered himself by the fact that the employer was going to get sued no matter what he did in that case, just for employing women. He was more interested in some other aspect of the case, which I forget for the moment.

As for their suing the casino rather than the employee, that, of course, is also a staple of "harassment" law: The employee _can't_ be sued as an individual because there is no provision in civil law for suing somebody just for talking dirty in front of you. But "non-discrimination" law has developed this whole "hostile environment" set of precedents which appear to be the rubric under which this suit was filed.

What it comes to is that basic, common-sensical fairness to employers and to providers of goods and services to the public appears to be the concern of no one.

Since when can a customer sue for harassment? Sounds bogus, particularly claiming EEOC. It will probably be dismissed under summary judgement.

The same "reasoning" by which anti-discrimination laws were expanded to make an employer liable for a negative atmosphere, caused by the comments and behavior of other employees, where protected groups are concerned among his employees would seem to apply to making a businessman liable for the atmosphere his employees create for customers. I just don't happen to know the state of play as far as the actual precedents and applications of that principle to customers.

If you read the article, the customers seem to be suing in state court, probably under state tort law. Not the EEOC.

Yes, in state court, but it isn't stated under what state laws. Most (all?) states have laws identical to federal anti-discrimination laws, and I would guess that they are suing under some variant of those. Since they are suing the casino, it appears that it isn't being treated as a tort *on the part of the person who actually used the insulting language*, or else he would be the object of the suit.

It always amazes me, by the way, that people say "it's not enough" when they complain and then sue for huge sums of money _because_ what they were offered to soothe their wounded feelings was "not enough." Let's think about this: One of the guys who did the stuff was fired that same night. The women were offered all manner of stuff in compensation by the manager--in fact, it sounds like he did about all he could possibly have done. But the statement is that he was a male and "didn't understand" or was "brushing them off." Giving them free rooms (wasn't that one of the things he did?) is brushing them off? What, exactly and precisely, did they want of him in order for the casino to avoid suit? Was he supposed to offer them $500 thousand dollars apiece on the spot? Was he supposed to get down and kiss their feet? Are they suing for a million dollars _just because_ the other worker wasn't also instantly fired? The vague talk about how the manager "didn't understand" and thought they'd be satisfied with "freebies" is very annoying to me, because when you come to think of it, it's almost impossible to see what more he could have done. To me it sounds like they were determined to sue regardless, yet the claim is that somehow the casino could have avoided suit if it had been more "responsive" to the initial complaint and that the reason the casino is liable is because its manager "didn't understand" and didn't do "enough" when the initial complaint was made.

I couldn't find the case here: http://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/webcivil/FCASMain Maybe the system hasn't been updated yet; that's fairly common. In any event, given that the lawyer mentions "emotional distress," I'd guess that they're suing the casino under some sort of theory of vicarious liability for inflicting emotional distress (a tort). That doesn't change the overall point that employers are in a catch-22, of course.

I just can't agree with you hear. When compared point by point, Spanish is a far superior language to English. I personally look forward to the day when more Americans speak Spanish than English. If you really believe in the English Only nonsense then you have to stand against the Constitution. Freedom of Speech protects not just what you say but which language you say it in. Do away with that and the Dems will see fit to do away with Latin, Greek, Slavonic and Syriac ever being taught. Don't think it can't happen because they have tried it before. I much prefer not to be forced to speak English thank you very much. My ancestors were here, Yes I am Native American, well before the white racist with all your English ever decided to show up. We don't speak English and I sure am not about to be forced to. You can say that you want to hire only people who speak English as a BOQ but then I can do that same and hire only people who DO NOT SPEAK ENGLISH as a BOQ. Actually that sounds like a good idea. A cafe in the middle of the French Quarter with all Creole speaking staff and a big sign outside that says NO ENGLISH. It warms my heart just thinking about it. Now if we can just get English out of the Mass and go back to All Latin I would say the world is becoming more peaceful.

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