In the Courts: Discrimination Claims for Firing Employees Who “Can’t Speak English” to Proceed to Trial

November 17, 2017 | Aging Services Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado has ruled that multiple claims based on alleged national origin discrimination brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against an assisted-living facility and the company that manages it will proceed to trial.

The four employees were black and of African origin. All had been working at the facility as personal care aides, one for as long as nine years, when the defendants hired a new director. Soon afterward, the director told the employees' supervisor, who was white, that the management company "had to get rid of 'these people,' because they just can't speak English." Believing that the director's comments were discriminatory, the supervisor expressed her disagreement. A few months later, the director told the supervisor to demote or transfer one of the employees, but the supervisor did not do so. The defendants fired the supervisor a week later. A few months later, the defendants began requiring personal care aides to complete a course and pass a written test, both of which were in English. The four employees completed the course, but none passed the test. All four...

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