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English Language Usage in the Workplace Essay

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Updated: Apr 27th, 2022


The debate on English-only rules in workplaces has already been ongoing even with several court cases relating to these work place conditions being determined. These rules are normally implemented in workplaces after the management feels it necessary depending on its business needs, handling of customers and the workplace employees composition. For example, in the US, the Census Bureau predicts that by the year 2050, 24% of the population of the US will be Hispanic, while the Asians and Pacific Islanders will make around 10% (Repa, 2010, P. 479). Based on these developments in preparation for the future, the American workplaces should be very careful in implementing English-only rules due to the legal requirements concerned.

Rationale for and against this policy

Supporters of English-only rules believe that the rules are very vital in ensuring that employees are following the institution policies and procedures, and they are relating in proper business etiquette with colleagues and clients. The supporters also feel that these rules enhance uniform communication model in the workplaces, enabling proper and transparent management of the institutions without fear of misunderstanding or discrimination originating from communicating in different languages at workplaces. In addition, supporters argue that the English-only rules are mostly justified due to business necessity, a position that is also upheld in legal systems in matters relating to implementation of English-only rules. According to Equal Employment Opportunity Committee (EEOC), regulations on implementing English-only rule in workplaces business necessity can justify it implementation in the following situations. First, to help supervisors who speak only English to monitor work performance well; secondly, to safeguard safety in emergency situations; additionally, to promote efficiency when multi-lingual speakers collaborate on work schedules with English-only speakers; and lastly, to improve customer service when handling English-speaking customers (Anon, 2007).

Those against the English-only rule argue that the policy is like a punishment and it is discriminatory to non-English speaking workers and those who are not very fluent in English. Secondly, they feel that it would be difficult to serve customers speaking their native languages. Thirdly, in the US, there many immigrant workers and English-only rule can discriminate against them, which would be a violation of their civil rights relating to their origin. Additionally, the opponents feel that they should be allowed to communicate with fellow employees in their own language during working sessions and resting intervals as a fundamental freedom of expression. Lastly, they argue that the English-only rule is always seen as illegal apart from when it is implemented to serve a business necessity.

Benefits of cultural and linguistic inclusion

Global population demographics are ever shifting, for example, groups such as Hispanics, African-American and Asians once viewed as minorities are increasing in the American population; and it is expected they will continue to increase. With these developments, it is very important for companies and institutions to embrace diversity by having multicultural staff in order to be ready for future market changes, be able to handle matters concerning recruitment of diverse applicants, and to reap the advantages of diverse working environment.

Secondly, through a diverse workplace, the process of recruiting and keeping the best candidate for the job is made easier. This is achievable by having a diverse management team that exemplify the positive side of people being different as a reminder to all staff that the organization’s diversity goals are highly valued (Mateo, & Smith, 2001). Additionally, institutions with multicultural diversity are able to communicate and understand the needs of different communities, thus they are better suited to enter new markets and expand their markets. Finally, institutions with diverse workforce mostly experience higher creativity and innovation since different cultures can bring insightful alternatives in trying to come up with a new idea or solving a problem (Aghazadeh, 2004).

Drawbacks of cultural and linguistic inclusion

In implementing multicultural diversity in workplaces, several projects related to preparing for the implementation are undertaken which increase the funds set aside for training thereby reducing profitability and financial position of the institution. Secondly, diversity at workplaces brings people with different opinions on certain things, beliefs, backgrounds, norms, and culture. Due to these differences, there is increase in workplace conflicts caused by ignorance, prejudice, or derogatory statements between different groups.

In addition, the company may experience reverse discrimination associated with affirmative action policies (Aghazadeh, 2004), in which a majority group feels it is being discriminated against a minority group especially in recruitment processes. Lastly, if the diversity is not properly managed, it may affect employees’ esteem and reduce productivity especially where one group feels as the more valued in the organization, thus affecting the other group(s), making it feel less appreciated.


If the English-only rule is implemented without any bias or targeting any group of people and simply because of business necessity, it can be successful and bear positive effects on the organizational culture. Further, in implementing this policy, the management should take into consideration, special cases such as fully non-English speaking individuals, and offer opportunities of improving the masterly of English language to all staff.

Additionally, for any healthcare institution planning to embracing multicultural diversity and linguistic inclusion, it can use the Purnell Model as a guide for assessing, planning, implementing, and evaluating the efforts put in place to enhance the success of the process (Purnell, 2005). Lastly, multicultural diversity should be encouraged in workplaces, as it brings diverse people to work together for common goals thus encouraging unity in diversity, which is very important for global coexistence.


Anon. (2007). “Speak English Only” Workplace Rules: Proceed With Caution. Lawyers alliance for New York. New York. Web.

Aghazadeh, S.M. (2004). . International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 53(5/6), Pp 521-531.

Mateo, M.A. & Smith, S. P. (2001). . Journal of Multicultural Nursing & Health, Vol. 7(2), Pp 8-12.

Purnell, L. (2005). . Journal of Multicultural Nursing & Health, Vol. 11(2), Pp 7-15.

Repa, B. K. (2010). Your Rights in the Workplace. California: Nolo.

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