Can an employer order a person to stop speaking Spanish and only speak English?

Yesterday my boss told the new secretary to stop speaking Spanish while she was conversing with a co-worker who came to welcome her aboard.
She is Mexican and the boss is a flag-waving White male-type.


  1. The answer to your question depends entirely on the state where this occurred and the circumstances of WHEN it occurred.

    It is well-settled law in California that an employer may NOT restrict the use of a mother-tongue during break times but when there is a legitimate business reason during working hours, the court will not restrict the company’s actions .

  2. Boss is always right.

    But it can be case for ACLU. Even if he was an owner.

    Curtsy demands that people speak the language that very one understands, other people may take it as an insult, they may even take it as conspiracy against them. Few words here and there may add flavour to the surrounding but I think to go on and on will be vary rued to others including the boss.

  3. In the work place on work time – unless she is an interpreter – he can require that she speak in English.

    I work in a hospital where a fairly significant portion of our housekeeping staff speak English as a second language, and Spanish is their native language. They have been instructed that in all public areas of the hospital and in patient areas they speak English.
    I agree whole heartedly with this policy. Speaking a foreign language (and yes in the USA that IS a foreign language!) while at work is rude, disrespectful, and can make visitors, guests, and coworkers uncomfortable. I feel your boss was 100% within his right to say that on paid time she is to use only English on his work premises.

    Susie D

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