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Garcia v. Spun Steak Co. - 998 F.2d 1480 (9th Cir. 1993)

Rule:

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines provide that an employee meets the prima facie case in a disparate impact cause of action merely by proving the existence of an English-only policy. 29 C.F.R. § 1606.7(a)(b) (1991). Under the EEOC's scheme, an employer must always provide a business justification for such a rule. The EEOC enacted this scheme in part because of its conclusion that English-only rules may create an atmosphere of inferiority, isolation, and intimidation based on national origin which could result in a discriminatory working environment. 29 C.F.R. § 1606.7(a).

Facts:

Spun Steak Company (Spun Steak) implemented a policy requiring its bilingual employees to speak only English while at work. The employees and their union brought an action against Spun Steak that alleged the English-only policy violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000e. The employees claimed that Spun Steak’s policy adversely affected the Spanish-speaking employees in the following ways: it denied them the ability to express their cultural heritage on the job; it denied them a privilege of employment enjoyed by monolingual speakers of English; and it created an atmosphere of inferiority, isolation, and intimidation. The district court granted summary judgment for the employees and concluded that the English-only policy disparately impacted Hispanic workers without sufficient business justification. 

Issue:

Did Spun Steak violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in requiring its bilingual workers to speak only English while working on the job?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the employees had failed to make out a prima facie case because they had failed to actually prove any discriminatory impact. The Court also held that it was not bound by EEOC guidelines. The EEOC guidelines provide that an employee meets the prima facie case in a disparate impact cause of action merely by proving the existence of an English-only policy. 29 C.F.R. § 1606.7(a)(b) (1991). Under the EEOC's scheme, an employer must always provide a business justification for such a rule. The EEOC enacted this scheme in part because of its conclusion that English-only rules may create an atmosphere of inferiority, isolation, and intimidation based on national origin which could result in a discriminatory working environment. 29 C.F.R. § 1606.7(a).

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