Los Angeles-Based Service Fired Cleaner Because She Wasn't Fluent in English, Federal Agency Charges
BALTIMORE - Blackstone Consulting Inc, which provides environmental, facilities management and other services to clients, violated federal law when it terminated a cleaner based on her national origin, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.
According to the suit, Blackstone hired a woman from El Salvador as a part-time cleaner. Blackstone interviewed and trained her in Spanish and assigned her to work with a Spanish-speaking supervisor and coworker at a client site in Hyattsville, Md. Although her English-speaking skills were very limited, the worker performed her job satisfactorily, EEOC says.
About two months after her hire, the worker went to another of Blackstone's facilities to get a uniform. EEOC charges that the environmental services director screamed at her, made a derogatory comment to her about Hispanics, and said to her, "how is it that you do not know how to speak English? In this company you are not allowed to work here if you don't know how to speak English." The director terminated her and told her that she could have her job back if she learned to speak perfect English in 30 days, the EEOC charges.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees from discrimination based on national origin. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Blackstone Consulting Inc., Case No. 8:19-cv-03365-GLS) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Greenbelt Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its administrative conciliation process.
"An employer can only have a language requirement if it is truly necessary to perform the job effectively," said EEOC District Director Jamie R. Williamson.
Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, "Sadly immigrant workers are often vulnerable to discriminatory practices or policies. The EEOC is committed to ensuring that all workers are judged on their ability to do the job and not based on their national origin or characteristics tied to national origin."
Eliminating discriminatory policies affecting vulnerable workers who may be unaware of their rights under equal employment laws or reluctant or unable to exercise them is one of six national priorities identified by the agency's Strategic Enforcement Plan.
The lawsuit was commenced by EEOC's Baltimore Field Office, one of four component offices of EEOC's Philadelphia District Office. The Philadelphia District Office is responsible for cases originating in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and parts of New Jersey and Ohio.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.