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English only court cases involving the U.S. workplace: They myths of language use and the homogenization of bilingual workers' identities

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Title: English only court cases involving the U.S. workplace: They myths of language use and the homogenization of bilingual workers' identities
Authors: Gibson, Kari
Advisor: Brown, James D.
Issue Date: 2004
Abstract: Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects against discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, sex, religion and national origin. However when the judicial system has examined English Only workplace policies in light of Title VII, it has generally determined that such policies are not discriminatory if an employee is able to speak English. Although plaintiffs have argued that language is inextricably linked to national origin and cultural identity, the courts have stated that the use of a language other than English is detrimental to the morale of monolingual English speakers and a single language is necessary to ensure workplace harmony and proper management. This paper examines the court cases where English Only workplace policies have been challenged, and identifies the prevalent myths and ideologies held by businesses and the courts about language use, identity, and bilingual speakers. Through the process of homogeneism, linguistic diversity is rejected as monolingual English speakers are able to create and enforce rules that favor themselves as they construct the identity of “American” in their own image. Language is a central feature of human identity. When we hear someone speak, we immediately make guesses about gender, education level, age, profession, and place of origin. Beyond this individual matter, a language is a powerful symbol of national and ethnic identity. (Spolsky, 1999, p. 181)
Pages/Duration: 60 pages
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/40661
Appears in Collections:SLS Papers



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