Is itOK for a supervisor to always start talking a language that you do not understand to others when you are present and do not understand what they are saying?

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Is itOK for a supervisor to always start talking a language that you do not understand to others when you are present and do not understand what they are saying?

Asked on February 1, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It may be ok. The factors to consider are:

1) Federal law prevents discrimination or harassment at work on the basis of race, sex, religion, age over 40, or disability--but not based on language or national origin. Some states prohibit harassment or discrimination based on language or national origin, so the first hurdle is to see whether your state provides any potential claim in his regard. The majority of states, I believe, do not.

2) Even if your state prohibits discrimination or harassment at work on the basis of language or national origin, this may not be actionable harassment. It depends on the circumstances--if the intent, or at least the effect, is to harass or discriminate against you, you might have a claim--but the mere fact that that a different language is used is not automatically harassment or discrmination. For example, if the other employees or customers are not conversant in English, speaking to them in their own language may be a practical necessity, not harassment. Much depends on the specific facts of the situation.


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