1. Who might be hurt by English-only rules? Who tends to benefit? Can such rules create or reinforce stereotypes?
2. Articulate the kind of discrimination claim made by the plaintiffs in this case. What will they have to prove at trial? How will the city defend itself? How important is it that plaintiffs are all bilingual?
3. Would there be a business necessity for requiring airline pilots to speak English in all air traffic communications within the United States? Having computer software salespeople speak English in all management meetings? What about an English-only rule for workers on a semiconductor assembly line, or an airline baggage handling area? Is there ever a business necessity for requiring English to be spoken during non-work hours?
4. What reasons might an employer have for preferring to hire persons who don’t speak English? How ethical would it be to prefer such persons for the reasons you have identified?
5. Title IX of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in education. Should a school be allowed to prohibit students from speaking a language other than English in school? Should it matter whether it is a public or private school? See Rubio v. Turner Unified School District No. 202, 453 F. Supp.2d 1295 (D. Kansas, 2006).
6. Dissenting Judge Seymour mentions the history behind the adoption of the city’s English only policy, a history fraught with conflict. Can you think of a way this litigation might have been avoided? Suppose you were the HR consultant hired to lead discussions on a possible English-only policy for the city. Who would you try to bring into the conversation? How might you enable the different stakeholders to become active, respectful participants? What information might you want to access to assist their decision-making process?

  • CreatedSeptember 11, 2015
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