[quote user="American Metals"]I have a small manufacturing plant in Baird, Texas about 20 employees. All management speaks english. Can I require that English be spoken. I think it would be a safety issue.[/quote]
Job relatedness becomes the focal point of an English only policy. For instance, if you punish two guys for speaking in non-English while they're standing at urinals while a manager who happens to be seated in a stall overhears them, you could be in for a problem. Same for off-the-clock-but-on-the-premises discourse, for example, in the break room at lunch time.
Consider this: you could have a safety problem requiring a bilingual lead to explain a safety procedure in English to a non-native speaker of English (who shares a native tongue with the bilingual lead).
I haven't had to mess with this since 2000 but I wouldn't expect the job relatedness business to go away.
If you have someone who doesn't speak a bit of English, then you need to suit their needs. Otherwise, you're putting their safety at risk and OSHA will have fun with you. Repeatedly. I don't have a §1910 book with me, but I always resort back to the General Duty Clause when I'm unsure.
HR.BLR.com posted an article just last month on this topic, noting that complaints about English-only policies are on the rise. The number of complaints to EEOC increased quite dramatically in 2008, even though it remained pretty small overall. See http://hr.blr.com/news.aspx?id=79863
The article also lists EEOC's guidelines that provide examples of a business necessity that would justify an English-only policy. You may find it helpful.
"In emergencies or other situations in which workers must speak a common language to promote safety."
So let me get this straight...
They're saying that in any business that requires stress on safety (such as the construction industry), an English-only rule can be put into place? It just sounds like trouble ready to emerge...
English only has been around for a long time. The issue is merely one of job relatedness (orderly conduct of business, ability to relate to customers, safety, etc.) Safety, of course, trumps everything. The issue is not so much whether or not you can require that business matters be handled in English but whether or not your line supervisors can enforce this without doing something stupid like writing up two guys for chatting in Spanish while they use the rest room at the same time.
There is a lot of Safety information in Spanish on the web that can very useful
[quote user="HRoamer"]That's not really how I would interpret.[/quote]
Which post/statement are you referring to?