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

UPDATED: Apr 5, 2012

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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