Attention Employers: Language Restrictions at Work Are Now Presumed to Violate California Law

New employment policies went into effect on July 1, 2018, that “limit or prohibit the use of any language” in the workplace are presumed to be unlawful. This means that English-only policies are presumed to violate California law unless:

“(A) [t]he language restriction is justified by business necessity; (B) [t]he language restriction is narrowly tailored; and (C) [t]he employer has effectively notified its employees of the circumstances and time when the language restriction is required to be observed and of the consequence for violating the language restriction.” Cal. Code Regs. §11028 (a)(1).

Such policies must be ‘safe and efficient to the operation of the business’, ‘fulfill the business purpose it is supposed to serve’ and there is no alternative practice with ‘a lesser discriminatory impact.’ It is also important to note that even a single incident of ‘[t]he use of epithets, derogatory comments, slurs, or non-verbal conduct…[including] mockery of an accent or language or its speakers’ may be sufficient to create an unlawful hostile work environment.

Having clear and concise employment policies at the workplace these days are a must. Employers must communicate those policies to their employees and apply them consistently throughout the workplace.  If you have any questions about your business’s policies or best practices on how to maintain and enforce policies to promote safe work environments, please contact the attorneys at Chauvel & Glatt, LLP. ​

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