Monday, October 3, 2011
Help Me Howard: No Spanish, No Job
Most Americans consider the U.S. an English-speaking country, so can a South Florida company refuse to hire you if you don't speak Spanish? Do yo know the answer? One woman is trying to find a job and needed to know the answer, so let's bring in Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Kris McCarthy cares for her three dogs that were once abandoned.
Kris McCarthy, Has to Speak Spanish: "They got me through some really hard times. They are unconditional, and they always love me."
And more importantly, Kris loves to care for her patients.
Kris McCarthy: "I am a hospice nurse. I take care of terminally-ill patients."
Kris has been a nurse for 20 years, and to her, it's more than a job.
Kris McCarthy: "I want to work in an area that I am qualified to work in, that I have a passion to do, that I love doing."
But after deciding to leave a hospice company she worked for, Kris is having trouble finding a new job.
Kris McCarthy: "And when I started looking in Miami-Dade, I found that it seems they are more interested in my language skills than my nursing skills."
Born in America, living in South Dade, Kris is able to speak and understand her native language, English, very well. It's the second language that is blocking her from getting a job.
Kris McCarthy: "One of the first questions they ask is, 'Are you fluent in Spanish?' And I tell them, 'No.'"
The companies make it clear: If you don't speak Spanish, you can't work for us.
Kris McCarthy: "And the day before the interview, she called and said, 'By the way, we are going to have somebody here, and part of the interview will be in Spanish.'"
In her previous job, Kris had patients who did not speak English, and they were able to communicate.
And she says, there are a lot of hospice patients who don't require a Spanish-speaking nurse.
Kris McCarthy: "There are also families that need somebody English that speaks their language and speaks their culture."
Some Americans would be bitter that they have to know a foreign language to work in their own country, but not Kris.
Kris McCarthy: "It's frustrating. I can't say it makes me angry, but it makes me sad."
Sad, because this deeply-religious woman can't do what she says God has called her to do: care for terminally-ill patients.
Kris McCarthy: "That's all I am asking is to just to be able to do the job I have prepared all my life to do. I was created to do this job."
Patrick Fraser: "So you can care in any language?"
Kris McCarthy: "Yes, I can care in any language."
Well Howard, a simple question: Can a company in the United States of America point blank refuse to hire you because you don't speak Spanish?
Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: "Believe it or not, it is legal to force an American to speak a foreign language as a job requirement, so long as the requirement is legitimate. And in this case, the courts would find it legitimate, since many of their customers in South Florida only speak Spanish."
When Kris has gone online and looked for jobs, hospice companies in other parts of Florida have seen her resume and wanted to hire her.
But she doesn't want to have to move to Tampa or Orlando and doesn't know how to find patients in South Florida who need an English-speaking nurse.
Kris McCarthy: "I need to be contacted. I don't know how to get into the community and say, 'Hey, I am here if you need somebody.'"
Kris hopes to find a job. She told us, she is certain God will help her get through this, just as he has helped her get through the loss of each of her hospice patients.
Kris McCarthy: "Cry. I allow myself the luxury of crying and grieving and remembering a lot of times they are in a better place."
Patrick Fraser: "Kris lives in South Dade but could work in Broward if she can find a place that doesn't require you to speak Spanish. Otherwise, she and her husband may have to move to a place where Spanish is not required. If you know someone who needs a hospice nurse with a big heart, she is available."
Unable to understand your dilemma? The solution seem a little foreign to you? Contact us. We'll translate the legal options for you in a language everyone can understand.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org (Please include your contact phone number when emailing)
REPORTER: Patrick Fraser at email@example.com