According to the U.S. Census Bureau, around 36 percent of people living in Texas in 2008 are of Hispanic origin. In a state where a large proportion of the population speaks a language other than English, an English-only policy in the workplace means that employers must ensure that doing so is done out of a justified business need, and not as a means to discriminate against employees.
Employers who decide to enforce this policy must abide by the guidelines set by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). While there are no laws that specifically mandate English-only in the workplace, some cities have passed, or have attempted to pass, legislation declaring English as the official language.
In 2006, the City Council of Farmers Branch, Texas passed the Resolution Declaring English as the Official Language of the City of Farmers Branch. It states that all official actions, views, or positions of the city must be in English only. However, exceptions may be made in specific circumstances, such as when use of another language is needed in order to protect or promote public health, sanitation, and safety, to promote trade or tourism, or to collect fines and payments due to the city.
In Lewisville, Texas, all city business is likewise done in English, with similar exceptions as in Farmers Branch. However, a move to declare English as the official language of the city was rejected by the City Council in 2008. The city continues to print publications and other communications in Spanish, such as those relating to election information and employment publications. The Public Library also continues to carry non-English materials.
In 2007, the Oak Point City Council voted to make English the official language. But in late 2008, the council rescinded the resolution. The move to rescind was initiated by Oak Point's Mayor Duane Olson, who put the resolution on the City Council's agenda.
In 2007, residents of Friendswood considered a proposal to amend the city charter to declare English as the town's official language. The debate centered on whether to include the issue as part of the recommended charter amendments that were to be put to a vote by the City Council. In the end, the proposal was not included among the recommendations that were proposed to the council.
- Photo Credit sign in spanish. image by Empath from Fotolia.com
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