Florida nurses say Health Department told them to speak English only or be fired

Such a rule could violate federal law, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
BRONTE WITTPENN   |   Times
Seven nurses at a government-run  Haines City clinic say they were threatened with termination for speaking Spanish.
BRONTE WITTPENN | Times Seven nurses at a government-run Haines City clinic say they were threatened with termination for speaking Spanish.
Published August 20

HAINES CITY — Seven Puerto Rican health care workers say supervisors at a Florida government-run clinic warned them to stop speaking Spanish among themselves or they would get fired.

The women work at the Florida Health Department clinic in Haines City. A Monday statement from the community group La Mesa Boricua de Florida says the group filed a human resources complaint and wrote a letter to the Florida Department of Health.

The workers say the job required they be bilingual because of the Hispanic patients. Nurse Mairyli Miranda says she and her coworkers speak in English with non-Spanish-speaking patients and staff but choose their native language to talk to one another.

The health department didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states English-only rules may violate federal laws unless they are "justified by business necessity."

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