Earlier this year Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) proposed an addition to the Fiscal Year 2008 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill. The proposal would restrict the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) from pursuing civil legal action against employers who require their employees to speak English. The Senate adopted the measure and the House of Representatives followed suit in mid-November, adopting the measure by a vote of 218-186. Thirty-six of those supporting the measure in the House were Democrats.
The vote infuriated the 21 members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC). After failing to shut the House down by a vote of 204-184, CHC members suggested they would attempt to block the appropriations bill. Because of the CHC objections, House Democrats delayed a conference committee on the CJS appropriations bill, which will now become part of the omnibus spending bill Democrats intend to pass, according to the ROLL CALL newspaper.
Now it appears that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has capitulated to the CHC and agreed strike the language from the final version of the bill. CHC Chairman Joe Baca (D-CA) said last week that “[Pelosi] has agreed and our Caucus is united. Everybody agrees it was a mistake.” According to ROLL CALL, he added that he expects the language either to be struck in its entirety from the omnibus spending bill or to be replaced by language drafted by the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
But the size of the company is irrelevant. As Senator Alexander said, English is the common language of America. For one to improve and succeed one must have a comfortable command of the language. Speaking a common language on the job also fosters a sense of cohesiveness and camaraderie and promotes efficiency. If one group of people can talk amongst themselves without others knowing what they are saying, skepticism and mistrust are likely to result. It is also frustrating for the consumer to patronize a business where one has difficulty being understood because one is speaking English – and to the detriment of a business, many people will not patronize it.