Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Help Me Howard: Don't Speak Spanish
America is an English-speaking country, right? So, can a job require you to speak a foreign language to work for them? The answer is clear and may leave you fuming. So now let's turn to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser for the results.
WSVN -- Jasmine is a 19-year-old single mom with an adorable little boy and a desire to make his life wonderful.
Jasmine Seymour: "I want the best for my son, and I want to have my own place and better myself."
Today Jasmine lives with her parents, but she wants to go to college, wants to get her own place and needs a job to pay for all that.
Jasmine Seymour: "Help me find a good paying job that pays at least over $11 an hour."
Jasmine has looked for decent paying jobs but says she lacks one qualification many employers demand.
Jasmine Seymour: "I've been trying to look for a job, but it's kind of hard when you don't speak Spanish."
And when she looks in the want ads for jobs she qualifies for, they say 'Bilingual, bilingual, bilingual preferred;' which she has learned translates into, 'If you aren't bilingual, don't bother coming in.'"
Jasmine Seymour: "Pretty much they always ask me, 'Do you speak Spanish?"
And, as an American who only speaks English, her answer leaves her without the job.
Jasmine Seymour: "I don't think there's discrimination but maybe if they would have taught us Spanish in school like they should..."
It does seem strange to Jasmine. She wants to work but can't get some jobs because she is an American who speaks English.
Jasmine Seymour: "I'm mad, but there is nothing I can do about that."
And it brings up the question: Is it legal, in America, to require an American citizen to speak a foreign language to get certain jobs?
Howard, can you help us understand?
Howard Finkelstein: "Believe it or not, it is legal to force an American to speak a foreign language as a job requirement. Of course, you don't have to learn to speak Spanish, but in certain parts of the country, like South Florida, it certainly limits job opportunities."
But there are plenty of jobs available. If you don't find them in the want ads try the internet.
For example, we found several web pages that list jobs of every variety in South Florida. Many say nothing about having to speak Spanish but, of course, knowing a couple of languages give you a big advantage.
Howard Finkelstein: "I don't want to sound like your father, but now more than ever, to succeed or to even get the opportunity to succeed, you need education past high school -- whether it's trade school or college -- and, of course, to get the jobs to pay for that often requires you to learn another language in high school."
For Jasmine it may mean having to live with her parents a little longer to get that job and get through school, and when she accomplishes that, she knows exactly what she wants to do.
Jasmine Seymour: "Why a judge? Because I want to be in charge, I want to be the boss."
Patrick Fraser: "Good luck. By the way, Howard didn't discuss if a job can force you to speak Spanish after you have been hired because it's not clear. It depends on the job and the needs of the business so sometimes they can and sometimes they can't."
Someone jobbed you in a situation? Working to get it resolved? Employ us, a good thing in any language.
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