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Language issues spark employment discrimination case

Any time there are cultural differences among workers; there may be misunderstandings or hurt feelings that develop. However, when someone is fired or employees feel unfairly targeted, an employment discrimination claim may arise. Any Colorado employers or employees who work in a bi-lingual or multi-cultural work environment may want to follow the recent case of a winery worker who is suing her employer.

The 55-year-old woman had worked at a winery for 22 years. Her lawsuit alleges discrimination based on being fired for complaining about other workers speaking Spanish around her. She says the language barrier made her feel uncomfortable, and she felt as if they were talking about her. She also took issue with her Hispanic co-workers being allotted more overtime and contends that these complaints to supervisors resulted in the loss of her job.

She is seeking damages that entail lost wages and emotional distress. She also wants her job back. Experts in the field of employment discrimination have said the woman's hurt feelings could not spark an English-only work environment as that would constitute discrimination also.

This case highlights how intricate and complicated employment discrimination cases can be when cultural or language differences spark an emotional response or miscommunication between co-workers is misinterpreted. Any Colorado employer or employee may want to fully familiarize themselves with their own policies and the legal standings about bi-lingual work places. While sensitivity can't be regulated, employer and employee protections and rights are highly regulated and taken very seriously when someone has been wrongfully terminated.

Source:, "Ex-Madera winery employee alleges discrimination," Pablo Lopez, June 29, 2013

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