Gov't Sues Small Company for Firing Workers Over Poor English Skills
Judge Andrew Napolitano offered his expert analysis this morning on a complex case out of Wisconsin, where a company is being sued by the federal government for firing workers who did not possess adequate language skills.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claims Wisconsin Plastics Inc. violated civil rights laws that protect workers in the United States from discrimination based on national origin.
Here's more on the suit from the Journal Sentinel:
An administrative investigation showed that Wisconsin Plastics fired 22 Hispanic and Hmong employees based on 10-minute observations that marked them down for their English skills, even though language skills were not needed to perform their jobs, according to John Rowe, director of the EEOC's Chicago District office.
All of those fired had received satisfactory ratings on their annual performance evaluations while working for Wiscosnin Plastics Modern Plastics Division, a release from the EEOC said.
Such alleged conduct violates Civil Rights laws that protect employees from discrimination based on national origin, which includes the linguistic characteristics of a national origin group, he said.
The EEOC first tried to resolve the matter before filing suit, he said.
The action was filed Tuesday in federal court in Green Bay. It was assigned to U.S. District Judge William Griesbach.
In the suit, the EEOC seeks lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages for the discharged employees, and injunctive relief to end the discriminatory practices.
Napolitano said it all boils down to whether English-speaking skills are a requirement of the job, but added that it's "offensive to many people" that the federal government is intruding in this case. He argued there is no "federal issue," since the dispute involves a private corporation on the local level.
Clayton Morris pointed out that the workers were at the company for five months before being fired.
"If English is required, why were these people hired? And if English is not required, why were these people fired? But is this the federal government's job to scrutinize?" he asked, adding that President Obama has made it clear during his time in office that he wants these issues "in our faces because he wants us to live the way he wants us to live."
Watch the full discussion above.