Eroding Equal Employment Opportunity
By Dean L. Jones
Extending equal opportunity processes only abilities are under review, excluding arbitrary obstacles and irrelevant characteristics to determine the opportunities that are open to a person. An affirmative action of job placement is trending by posting language preferences on job descriptions, thereby enabling a seemingly professional method that circumvents equal opportunity hiring laws. The first winner in this unscrupulous activity are companies who acquire a two-in-one job applicant without paying for a translator or extending a pay differential for the additional language skill. Of course the second winner are the normally hired foreign born job applicants. The countless losers are the natural Americans excluded from job opportunities due in part to this habitually deceptive and repeatedly unlawful bilingual language hiring practice.
The American society can continue excluding a number of blacks that have an undeserved reputation of being trouble makers in the general workplace, in contrast where Spanish-speaking, often times foreign born job candidates are considered reliable hard workers. Consequently, the act of inserting the illicit phrase that pays―Bilingual required―somehow is accepted as fully justified. After all, the common misconception is that when blacks were in the driver’s seat following the passing of the civil rights act fifty years ago, they had ample opportunity to hire all the blacks corporate America would ever need.
The following are examples taken from real job descriptions used in the Los Angeles California region to gain access for bilingual English and Spanish speaking job candidates. A significant delivery system of this deceptive practice is to use the government agencies that are now called WorkSource Centers. The job developers working in these governmentally funded agencies are often desperate to place candidates are operating with zero level care of whether the employer practices fair equal opportunity hiring policies or not. The tax dollars awarded these low to moderate skilled job placement centers are so busy trying to justify staying in business that meeting placement numbers each quarter is the most critical action pursued by the worksource center employees. Hence, the mere fact that employers are wanting to keep a homogenous Spanish speaking employment staff has become inconsequential to exclude the core of natural American job seekers from wage opportunities.
For the most part, the choice insert for a job description is “Bilingual Spanish [is] a Plus” and it is customary to place at the bottom of the official written announcement ‘We are an Equal Opportunity Employer.’ The idea is not tarnish the organization’s brand as a fair employer.
For general job openings a light approach is used anywhere in the announcement, outside of the core requirements, to express “Bilingual English and Spanish highly encouraged.” “Bi-lingual in a community-based language a plus,” or my favorite is one that says Bilingual is non-essential and not required, but preferred. A shoe-in for hiring foreign born workers is to recruit for Bilingual Spanish [or Must be Bi-lingual (Spanish)] speaking ‘Call Center Representatives.’ After hiring the people, employers reassign new hires to other positions that may not have a necessity for applying a multi-language skill.
According to employment law a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) is appropriate if the nature of the job could not be done without a particular skill such as speaking Spanish. Even though the general language for California is English, job announcements are frequently written with skill requirements that discriminate against those applicants who cannot speak or write Spanish. That goes back to using the Worksource Center representatives who do not care about that fact that ‘English is the common language of the people of the United States of America and the State of California. To preserve, protect and strengthen the English language and not to supersede any of the rights guaranteed to the people by the State’s Constitution, English is the Official Language of the State of California.’
A large number of industries employ the practice of getting a full and part-time homogenous workforce, even the airline industry have been known to attract passenger service agents (ticket agent) and fleet service clerks (cargo handler) by phrasing the job announcements with the fact that all candidates “Must be fluent in English and Spanish.”
By emphasizing that candidates “Must speak English/Spanish” is highly used for recruiting Caregivers, Nannies, and Housekeepers. No one seems to question if the client can only speak Spanish since there are so many foreign born people living in the Los Angeles region.
AT&T outsources a lot of its work to subcontractors that eliminates the high cost of benefits and worker’s compensation in California, so whenever they are ramping up for Customer Service/Sales they use the phrase “All Languages are Welcome―Bilingual is a Plus.” By using this open phrase, sky’s the limit on who can be hired and excluded.
Apparently, those who write job description are attempting to use a sophisticated approach by creating a language portion of the job announcement. This scares off many applicants when they see language restrictions because chances are they cannot speak English well, less alone have knowledge of speaking a second language. Many job descriptions place the phrase right after the ‘Qualifications’ section and plug in “Language Skills: Bilingual in Spanish.”
Another seemingly subtle statement is writing “Other preferred attributes: Fluency in Spanish language highly preferred.” Again, employers always include―An Equal Opportunity Employer―statement and the latest is to add “Reasonable Accommodations Available Upon Request.”
Small businesses specializing in authentic Mexican Cuisine looking to expand commonly recruit using “Minimal Requirements Bilingual/English & Spanish.” This occurs without repercussions of any type, as the current American society routinely expects and fully accepts this one-sided hiring practice, especially if the food is good.
The older phrase that is now becoming obsolete is in the shipping and receiving clerk recruitment using “Bilingual Spanish/English a must.” Some scrutiny has come about for any light industrial warehouse, assembly and production skilled jobs because these are often union related positions. Here is where employers can be considered as crossing the discrimination line, likewise it is caught when hiring personnel ask candidates if they have “Reliable Transportation and that they Must Be Bilingual Spanish.”
Nonetheless, the Food Industry in Los Angeles, CA accepts the foreign language whole heartedly and businesses seeking bilingual Account Managers have opened the door wide for bilingual or multilingual languages from Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Korean, Taiwanese, to Spanish. The secret appears to emphasize that the candidate in addition to speaking a foreign language “Must also be fluent in English” with strong communication skills and presentation skills.
Another job that has large reasons for hiring a Spanish speaking person is the Case Manager position. The qualifications’ section makes reference to possessing a bachelor degree in social work or related field strongly preferred, plus two years experience providing case management services and that “Bilingual English/Spanish is required.” Sometimes strategically placed at the bottom of the announcement calls for; “Notes―Preferred Qualifications: Possess a college degree, credential, or vocational training; Experience in case management and/or goal planning; Experience in conducting individual or group mentoring or a history of receiving mentoring services; Bilingual English/Spanish.” Additionally, excellent communication and organizational skills; strong written and interpersonal skills is a great closer.
For the really large recruitments it seems to pay off making bold statements like “100 Bilingual Food Handler Positions Available.” Then an even bolder statement more specific wording “Bilingual and/or Monolingual Spanish” for a Burrito Manufacturing Company. This may seem quite stereotypic, but the low- to moderate-skilled job placement industry is using these tactics daily in the Los Angeles region. Professional staffing agencies are doing dirty work by writing job announcements in Spanish language with English in smaller print at the bottom, for example;
Empacadoras para turno de noche
- Temporal a Permanente (elegible para contratación después de 540 horas regulares).
- Compañía provee reembolso de hasta $75 para zapatos de casquillo (cuando le contraten)
- Turnos de 12 horas mandatorias (después de entrenamiento), oportunidad de hacer horas extras $$
- Turno: 6pm – 6am. Salario es $8.25 por hora.
- Debe estar disponible a trabajar los fines de semana
- Debe tener zapatos de casquillo
- Debe tener la habilidad física de levantar 35 libras.
- Debe tener la habilidad física de trabajar de pie por 12 horas consecutivas
- Debe tener derecho legal de trabajar en Estados Unidos
- Mínimo 1 año de experiencia laboral verificable en los últimos 2 trabajos
Packers needed for graveyard shift
- Temp to Hire (eligible for hiring as soon as 540 regular work hours are completed)
- Company provides a reimbursement for up to $75 for Steel Toe shoes (once hired)
- Mandatory 12 hour shifts (once training ends), opportunity to do overtime $$ everyday!!!
- Shift Hours: 6pm – 6am. Salary is $8.25 per hour.
- Must be available to work weekends
- Must have steel toe shoes
- Must have the ability to lift 35lbs.
- Must be able to work standing up throughout the 12 hour shift
- Must have the legal right to work in the U.S.
- Minimum 1 yr. of verifiable employment on the last 2 jobs
The main point is selected inclusion excludes. English speaking or bilingual English/Spanish speaking work preferences is the job discriminator of the 21st Century. Its use is too often and when called on it the answer is that it was an oversight or a simply apology is offered with a retraction of the announcement. Do not dwell on it because you will be very limited to see it again. Bilingual Spanish requirements are too common in the Southern California region along with E-verifiable right to work documents, High School Diploma/GED, able to pass drug screening and background checks. There is basically no fear to say bilingual English/Spanish preferred. Ironically, most job descriptions will openly say that in addition to the language preference the applicant must be proficient in Microsoft Word and Excel. This may attempt to cover the employer’s reputation for always seeking the best candidate.
Even those employers going after the trades like a HVAC Tech, intrepidly state that “Bilingual in English and Spanish candidates preferred.” In spite of asking for excellent customer service skills and able to demonstrate great workmanship and work ethic, and can get the job done under minimal supervision. Employers are always striving to get the largest bang for their buck and in the trades they even want all candidates to own tools and vehicle. This statement surely discourages anyone without credentials not to trudge up answering the announcement.
The government is friendly to this sort of exclusion where they frequently fund Spanish speaking projects. Take for instance the Center for Public Policy Research (CPPR) at the University of California, Davis that sought graduate students and/or senior undergraduate students to assist in a project that involves the screening and testing of Spanish-speaking adults for learning disabilities. All interested students must be fluent Spanish speakers.
The growing retailer Forever 21 in Los Angeles used a WorkSource Center to hire individuals with general warehouse, packing, ticketing and/or forklift experience and candidates were required to be Bilingual (Spanish & English), have a clean background, and proof of ‘Right-to-Work’ in the United States, just to mention a few other requirements.
Spanish Speaking Customer Service Representatives is hot job opportunity. Business owners are crying for customer service advocates as a Spanish language skilled preference in order to support their Latin American partners, distributors, and retailers. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we all know it is a bunch of crock, but let us face it, a significant part of America is going back to its roots with the help of human resources professionals―Se habla español.
The following represent a sampling of over 50 Job Announcements that suspiciously violate the aforementioned Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination:
- Bilingual – EEO volt staffing
- Bilingual – CSGWSCJuiceManufacturingCoopenings
- Bilingual – CookandCashierinSouthLA
- Bilingual – CM-SO
- Bilingual – CaseManagerJobAnnouncement
- Bilingual – BRMProductionMaintenanceMechanic012814
- Bilingual – Bookkeeper-OfficeManager
- Bilingual – ARTÉMIACommunications,Inc.
- Bilingual – AoDCounselorPCMjobannouncement
- Bilingual – AngelLovingCareAgencyRecruitmentatVN4-5_.12@10
- Bilingual – AngelLovingCareAgencyRecruitment
- Bilingual – AmpaolaDeliMarket_W.Covina
- Bilingual – AmericanEagleJobAnnouncement_07-16-13l
- Bilingual – 0814-Bi-LingualCallCenterRepresentative
- Bilingual – JOBPOSTINGTEMPLATE
- Bilingual – MechanicalAssembly
- Bilingual – restaurantmexicanrestaurant(2)
- Bilingual – Recruitment
- Bilingual – SAS000024JobDeveloper07-07-14
- Bilingual – ProfessionalYouthMentor
- Bilingual – PMpackerjobdescription_BilingualVersion
- Bilingual – PDMTeamRecruitment_January_16_2014
- Bilingual – Part-TimeCaseManagerJobDescription(April2012)
- Bilingual – MechanicalAssembly
- Bilingual – MarketingAsstLycamobile
- Bilingual – MandarinspeakingAdminAssistant
- bilingual – MaintenanceWorker-Supervisor08022012
- Bilingual – LYCAMOBILE
- Bilingual – JobRecruitmentforAcademicAdvantage
- Bilingual – JobDeveloper-BDA(BilingualKorean)
- Bilingual – HealthAdvocatestempscreener7.1.14
- Bilingual – FloristrecruitmentApril17flyer
- Bilingual – EnrollmentRepresentativeJobFlyer
- Bilingual – ShippingandReceiving04162013
- Bilingual – EDD-CustomerServiceReps.-bi-lingual4.13
- Bilingual – WasteManagementRecruitment8.22.14
- Bilingual – WHOLESALESCOMPANY
- bilingual – UniversalFitnessClubatVNfinal
- Bilingual – SpanishSpeakingCustomerService
- Bilingual – Spanish-english 10-29-11FOREVERRecruitmentFlyer
- Bilingual – Spanish_LD_Grad_Student_Ad_4_22_11
- Bilingual – SkilledTechsNeeded2014
- Bilingual – Sc-EIJuly2014
- Bilingual – SAS000027CaseManager(TSE)07-07-14
- Bilingual – SAS000025CaseManager07-07-14
- Bilingual – SAS000024JobDeveloper07-07-14
- Bilingual – WasteManagementRecruitment12.3.14
- Bilingual – warehouse
- Bilingual – Staffmark
- Bilingual – Armenian
- Bilingual – Temp Spanish
- Bilingual – receptionist
- JobDescription_LotusGardens English and Chinese (mandatory)
- CingularInc-RestaurantIndustry (Must Be Bilingual in Watts CA)
- Bilingual – KingTaco-Final
- MPSRecruitment (Bilingual A Plus)
- CuraTelTelemarketingSupervisorCA14383844 (State of CA sponsored job opp.)
- BilingualAdministrativeAssistantCA14383838 (State of CA sponsored job opp.)
- NOWHIRINGLOSANGELESAREA (Ironically, this Job Ad is Sponsored by America’s Job Center)
- SanitationWorkers2015 (Spanish speaking a plus to help with watse management)
- Bilingual – JobAnnouncementSeekingJobDeveloperFullTimePosition
- BilingualRecruiter [straightforward perpetuation of Spanish speaking bias]
- RECUITMENFlyer [County of LA Dept. of Public Social Services job recruitment flyer]
- AdministrativeAssistant_JobAnnouncment_08.2015 [non-essential bilingual – but preferred]
- HTAJobPostingforCaseManager [Los Angeles’ tourism and hospitality industry]
- FinancialCoach_JobDescriptionLISC [not required, but preferred]
- CareerCoachWorkSourceCenter [Bi-lingual in a community-based language a plus]
- BusinessandJobCoordinatorforCSC-BRC112014 [the City of Los Angeles]
- InsideSales [Foreign language skills are a plus—especially Spanish]
- AccountingAssistant [Foreign language skills are a plus, especially Korean, Italian, German, or Chinese]
- BilingualHousingCounselor [the job is for the Fair Housing Foundation, yet their hiring is not so fair]
- PekingNoodleflyerInEnglish [Must be Bilingual Spanish to Package Food]
- OperationsManagerAugust2015(1) [Bilingual: Spanish/English is preferred]
- SeasonalCareerOpportunityinFullerton08.24.15 [Buena Park &Fullerton CA cities support Bilingual Hiring Practices]
- AssyPackingBenchmarkE1[CA EDD & America’s Job Center – ‘Bilingual Spanish preferred but not necessary. Monolingual – Spanish only ok’] Just in case applicants cannot read English, here’s the same annoucement from America’s Job Center in Spanish language only – SpanishAssyPackingBenchmark1
- KimCoMiniRecruitment9.109.15 [Must have recent experience loading unloading, order picking and warehouse experience, Bilingual Spanish a must]
- 9.24.15SGVHiringProductionWkrsandMntMechanics [Bi-lingual in Spanish preferred to work on machines & the assembly line]
- ProductionSupervisor14532983 [English speaking state sponsored job that “Must be Bilingual Spanish”]
- ProductionPlantMgr14532959 [English speaking state sponsored job that “Must Speak Spanish”]
- ClassADriversRecruitmentFLYER [Bi-lingual Spanish and English Truck Driver in Los Angles]
- ManufacturingRecruitmentFLYER [American manufacturing job basic qualifications includes Bi-Lingual for Spanish & English]
- dedicatedbuildingservicesforcustoriansbilly [Bilingual Spanish a plus, but not necessary]