Thursday, March 13, 2008

Isakson, Chambliss Vote to Protect English in the Workplace

U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., today voted for an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Resolution that would stop the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from suing organizations for requiring English in the workplace.

“While I respect the rich heritage that immigrants bring to our nation, the citizens of the United States value English as our common language,” Isakson said. “It is inconceivable to me that American businesses are being punished because they require the use of English in their place of business. Using English in the workplace is just common sense.”

“As Americans, the English language is part of our national identity,” said Chambliss. “Our businesses should not be penalized because employees have not learned the language of the land. People who come to this country ought to be able to speak English -- period.”

Specifically, the amendment would provide $670,000 to the Department of Education’s English Literacy and Civics Education Program to promote the teaching of English and civics to immigrants. The funds would come from allocations to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that are now being used to prosecute businesses who require their employees to speak English on the job.

The amendment passed by a vote of 54 to 44.

English-only charges filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have nearly quadrupled in the last 10 years. In Fiscal Year 1996, 32 English-only charges were filed compared to 125 such charges in Fiscal Year 2006.

In March 2007, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the Salvation Army for allegedly discriminating against two of the organization’s employees in a Boston-area thrift store by requiring them to speak English even though the English requirement was clearly posted and the employees were given a year to learn the language.
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