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California workplace discrimination language lawsuit settled

Workers in California have received a huge settlement after filing a workplace discrimination lawsuit against their employer. The group of Filipino nurses filed the lawsuit in 2010 after claiming they suffered continuous harassment within the workplace virtually every time they spoke. The lawsuit involved 69 immigrant workers, and the group's lawyer claimed the workers were told that they could only speak English while in the hospital. The workplace discrimination lawsuit settlement is believed to be the largest language discrimination case in the United States' healthcare industry.

One woman who worked at the hospital for over 27 years claims she and other workers were followed by security guards and housekeepers who also worked at the hospital. When she asked one of the security guards why he was following them, he stated that he was told to watch and report back. In 2006, a mandatory meeting was called for all of the Filipino staffers. During the meeting, Filipino nurses were told that they could not speak in their native language at all while inside of the hospital.

The former chief executive for the hospital stated that if anyone violated the language policy they could be suspended or even terminated. Some of the workers drafted a petition that collected over 100 signatures and sent it to the management, expressing their shock over the policy. The group's lawsuit alleges the language policy was in violation of the Civil Rights Act. The hospital has denied any wrongdoing and claims the settlement was agreed to only because it made the most financial sense.

In addition to the $975,000 payout, the workplace discrimination settlement requires the administrators of the hospital to conduct regular diversity training and to both handle and enforce any future discrimination complaints. The California hospital will be monitored for compliance by an outside company for a period of three years. As this case demonstrates, workers in California who feel their discrimination complaints are not being handled or addressed properly have options available to them. Understanding one's legal rights when it comes to employment law can help workers who are victims of workplace discrimination.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Filipino nurses win language discrimination settlement," Anh Do, Sept. 18, 2012

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