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Hispanic Group Claims Olgethorpe University’s Language Policy Discriminatory

Hispanic Group Claims Olgethorpe University’s Language Policy Discriminatory

The alleged policy targeted three Spanish-speaking housekeepers, according to a motion filed last week by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

“We allege the housekeepers had been satisfactorily performing their job without a need to speak proficient English,” says Tisha Tallman, a lawyer with the organization. “We need to take a closer look at that policy.”

The private school, which has roughly 1,000 students, argues it never had such a requirement.

“We absolutely never had that policy. There was a sort of practice that said our staff needed to be able to communicate in English. And I think that policy is probably a legal one to have,” says Larry Schall, a former civil rights attorney who became president of the school last summer. “But I’m a firm believer in civil rights of employees and the value of having employees of a diverse background that I wouldn’t think of trying to implement that.”

The organization’s motion seeks to join a lawsuit lodged against the school last month by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It accuses the school of requiring that housekeepers learn English in 60 days or risk termination. They also have to be able to speak and understand some English to keep their positions.

“There are more and more individuals entering the work force who may not be proficient in English. As they increase in the work force, we sometimes see the rise of workplace policies that might interfere with their ability to maintain their jobs,” Tallman says.

— Associated Press

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