Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Hola, como esta. Welcome to Ohio.

Ohio Civil Rights Commission finds that an "English Only" sign is discriminatory. Apparently a hotel put up a sign that says for service, speak english - which is pretty reasonable if you only have english speakers working for you.

"Ohio law says it is unlawful for any proprietor of a place of public accommodation to deny the full enjoyment of the accommodations based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age or ancestry.

The commission said the English-only rule serves no purpose other than to discriminate against non-English speaking individuals."

Note that last paragraph. See, it does discriminate against non-english speaking individuals, but it does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age or ancestry. Ohio just expanded their own law. It's going to get pretty expensive if the local hotels have to have full-time interpreters.

Link pilfered from Neil Boortz.



Blogger Chowda said...

This is a clear discrimination case and frankly, it's pretty sad that this shit still goes on. Kudos to HOME for busting some balls.

Explain to me how this is not discrimination against national origin if you only serve English speakers...

2:48 PM  
Blogger DirtCrashr said...

The closest I can see coming to any sort of discrimination is perhaps if you squint a lot, disability-based - but it's a temporary disability that can be overcome by learning English. It's not racial, sexual, ageist, ancestral or religious - and many people of foreign origin learn English in their own schools already, so it can't just be a matter of national origin alone since it's also the most commonly spoken language in international business, and it's THE language for international air-traffic control.

7:40 PM  
Blogger The Management said...

RJR - you could be from England, Ireland, Australia, Canada and some others. You could be born in America and not speak English. It isn't based on Nationality. There are also many people who learn the language when they come to a new country.

Besides, it doesn't take much english to get a hotel room.

9:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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9:14 AM  
Blogger Chowda said...

The problem with these arguements is that there is an assumption that English "should be known" or "was learned" at some point. What these arguments don't point out is that it is entirely possible for someone to not learn the English language because they can't afford it. This sign is discriminating against poor non-English speaking individuals (e.g., Mexican immigrants).

This type of discrimination is rampant in the multi-family housing industry. It's extremely difficult to rent if you are non-English speaking - not because you can't communicate, because you are discriminated against because of your national orgin. HOME is very active in posing as potential renters both English speaking and non-English speaking. They tape conversations with landlords and you would be surprised how many non-English speaking indiviuals are denied the ability to rent versus the same landlord who speaks with an English speaking individual.

9:41 AM  
Blogger DirtCrashr said...

Affordability is not a valid argument since free English language classes are offered by every City College among other outreach programs, and that hurdle is low and easily mitigated. It's Kafkaesque to be forced to deal with someone who's incapable of communication, especially where financial issues are concerned. What cultural contempt must someone have to not prepare themselves linguistically, before arriving in a foreign country?

11:40 AM  
Anonymous Badger said...

Isn't it discrimination when I try to order a pizza and the guy I'm ordering from only speaks broken English? Would it kill the company to put the high school kid on phone detail. Granted, in today's age its not much of a step up, but at least its something.

1:32 PM  
Blogger Chowda said...

Affordability is an issue if you have to pay for transportation to get the closest outreach program, not to mention time off from work. But more importantly, how culturally contempt must we be to assume that everyone in our country speaks one language.

2:23 PM  
Blogger Kid Handsome said...

RJR - the point you make is alluded to by badger in the inverse. What if you go to a hotel and you cannot speak mandarin? Are you required to hire an interpreter and stay there, or can you just go on your way? If you go on your way, are you "discriminating"?

The point is that you cannot accommodate everyone into equality. If people from another country come here (or if people are born here)and are unable to communicate on a basic level, that is their choice. I'll agree that based on their socio-economic status, that choice can range from simple to extremely difficult - but it's still a choice.

I think the major point is that you are effectively discriminating against hoteliers for not speaking spanish, swahili, mandarin, cantonese and russian if you require them to go the whole nine yards when it comes to communications with customers. Ultimately, I see this as a market issue. If it becomes worthwhile for someone in Ohio to hire a spanish staff to attract customers they should do that. However, the government should not force them to go to the extra expense of hiring spanish speakers to accommodate another human being because he is unwilling to learn the language spoken by the vast majority of people in his newly chosen land.

How culturally elite is it for me to travel to Japan or Mexico and expect them to speak english? I would at least try to learn the basics if I were forced to go somewhere where english was not spoken.

Finally, the point of the article was that Ohio is enforcing a law that it doesn't have. Discrimination based on language is not de facto discrimination based on national origin. Yet Ohio is punishing a hotel for breaking a law that doesn't exist, and it seems to be based on the same funny logic that you are using. Not that I don't think your viewpoint is noble on some level, I just happen to think that it, for you, is a case where the ends justify the means - an ideology that is never correct in my book.

3:14 PM  
Blogger Chowda said...

Badger does raise an interesting point, however if a pizza business chooses to put someone incapable of answering a phone properly, then that's not necessarily discrimination - it's just a bad business decision ;)

Now if that same pizza business answers the phone and hangs up on every Hispanic "sounding" individual, then that's discrimination.

To me, this is no different than removing stalls for the disabled from bathrooms because you don't want to deal with people in wheelchairs.

3:50 PM  

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