BALTIMORE – Four Filipino nurses filed a discrimination complaint before the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against a hospital that allegedly fired them for speaking their native language at work.
Nurses Corina Capunitan Yap, Anna Rowena Rosales, Hachelle Natano, and Jazziel Granada claimed the Bon Secours Health System terminated them without due process and dismissed them solely for speaking in their native tongue.
The hospital’s policy states that English is the principal language and must be the exclusive language spoken and written by all employees while on duty in the emergency department.
However, the nurses, who are being represented by the Migrant Heritage Commission, said that they do not recall speaking in Tagalog in front or while providing patient care in the Emergency Department. They admitted speaking in their native language only during breaks at the Nurses’ Station.
The nurses’ lawyer, Atty. Arnedo Valera had asked the EEOC to investigate the complaint and if the hospital’s English-only rule in the workplace violates the Civil Rights Act.
Valera cited prior findings of the EEOC which did not favor this rule, “There were previous findings of the EEOC that this is burdensome as a condition of employment because it creates a disparate treatment which leads to discriminatory practice”.
Valera added that based on the nurses’ claims, speaking Tagalog during break time does not impede their work.
He added that should the EEOC find probable cause in the nurses’ complaint, the commission will issue a right to sue, after which they will file a case against the hospital before the district court and seek punitive damages of up to $500,000 for all four nurses. Balitang America
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