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English only? Might be Discrimination

In our continuing education classes, we have begun an HR section, dealing with employment law issues of recent.  According to a recently filed lawsuit, Hajra v Wawa, by a former employee of a company by the name of Wawa, Inc., Mr. Hajra's manager singled him out and enforced an English-only policy because he spoke with an accent.  The former employee claims that the manager required that he only "speak English" while on the job because no one understood what he was saying.  A native of Kosovo, he alleges that the manager repeatedly instructed that he speak English despite only speaking that language while at work.  From the claims in the lawsuit, it does not appear that Wawa has formally implemented an English-only workplace policy or that the manager gave similar instructions to other employees.

Putting aside the allegations that the manager singled out the employee and purportedly treated him differently because of certain characteristics associated with his national origin, could Wawa, or any other employer, require that its employees only speak English in the workplace?

The answer to that question depends upon the circumstances in question.  The United States does not recognize an official language.  Many states have existing official language laws.  Although New Jersey does not have any such law, there is a bill in committee in the New Jersey State Senate that if adopted and signed into law would designate English as the state's official language.  Despite a lack of consensus on this issue by our federal and state political bodies, English-only work rules are not unheard of and can be legal at times.

It is clear that an English-only rule adopted by an employer must be implemented for nondiscriminatory reasons.  Furthermore, prohibiting certain foreign languages and not all such languages is unlawful.  The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued guidance indicating that any such rules should relate to specific circumstances and can be justified by business necessity, such as in case of emergencies, promoting efficiency or to monitor the performance of employees whose job duties require communication where a supervisor only speaks English.  Even if the employer does not have a discriminatory intent or motive, however, federal law has been interpreted as prohibiting both intentional and unintentional discrimination against persons in protected classes.  According to the EEOC, employers therefore need to weigh business justifications against the possible discriminatory effects of the rule and should consider alternatives to an English-only rule that would be equally effective in promoting safety or efficiency.

So, if you plan to establish an English-only policy, you should consider all the ramifications before you set in in action.

Our continuing education classes deal with these types of subjects, which apply to you, whether you are a plumber, roofer, painter or fencing contractor.

Contractor ETC is about helping make your MORE successful.

What about Qualifying a Business?

This year, we have shown several contractors in our continuing education courses, that the rules for qualifying business vary depending on who licensed you.

State CILB licensees are able to qualify two, or maybe even three businesses.

If you have a GC license, plus a roofing and a mechanical license, and each operate under a separate business name, then, you are surely going to be able to meet the muster of the board's scrutiny.

But if you have a roofing license, and your pal from the next county wants to have you set him up and qualify his business ... it may be possible, but the board will be very particular about letting you do that!  They are supposed to protect the public.  What will your supervisory limits be?

How about if you are licensed by a county?  Can you qualify two businesses then?  Miami Dade says NO!  Only one!  You would need to combine all your services into one business entity!

Hope this and more shows you how simple, yet complicated some rules and laws can be.  At our construction continuing education courses we make learning FUN and engaging!

We are all about one thing!  Helping make you MORE successful!  See you in a class soon!


November 15, 2015 is the closing date for grandfathering your county registered license.  If your license is of the category of scope that qualifies for this excellent benefit, you have less than 2 weeks to get your application in to the state.

We have made it a point to serve the needs of contractors in our class who want to grandfather their license, by offering this service and doing a very good job of it!  Several contractors have hired us to assist them in putting their best foot forward, and to navigate the piles of paperwork necessary to present a decent application in front of the CILB board.

That is what we do in our construction continuing education class!  We help contractors!  We show them important items of knowledge, that matter to their business!  .. and we make ourselves available to assist throughout the years as any questions they may have also need servicing!

We are happy to have been of service to many of our fellow construction license holders.

If you need grandfathering assistance, we recommend you phone our office immediately.  Time is passing.  Without having the time needed to complete your background checks and other necessary items you don't have a chance to make the November 15 deadline!

Our office number is:  786.243.1060

ContractorETC is about helping make your construction business MORE successful.