If I was recently fired from my kitchen job because I don’t speak Spanish, is that legal?

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If I was recently fired from my kitchen job because I don’t speak Spanish, is that legal?

I had only worked there a week. When I attempted to file for unemployment I was denied.

Asked on April 5, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You *may* have a legal claim. Federal law does not protect you from being fired due to language or national origin; your state (TX) does make it illegal to fire someone due to their national origin, but not due to their language. Therefore, if the termination was not due to your failure to speak Spanish per se, but rather because of your national origin (e.g., say most staff or owners are Mexican, and you are not), you may have an employment discrimination claim and could either retain an attorney to sue, or else complain to the state department of labor.

Separate from that, you should not have been denied unemployment. You would only be denied unemployment when you are fired if you are fired "for cause." However, being fired for not speaking Spanish is NOT "for cause" termination (examples of "for cause" termination including violating company policy, excessive absenteeism or tardiness, theft at work, insubordination, etc.). You should appeal the denial and may wish to have an attorney assist you. Good luck.


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