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  ENGLISH ONLY COURT CASES INVOLVING THE U.S. WORKPLACE: THE MYTHS OF LANGUAGE USE AND THE HOMOGENIZATION OF BILINGUAL WORKERS’ IDENTITIESK  ARI  G IBSON University of Hawai‘i  Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects against discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, se, religion and national srcin! "o#ever #hen the $%dicial system has eamined &nglish 'nly #or(place policies in light of Title VII, it has generally determined that s%ch policies are not discriminatory if an employee is able to spea( &nglish! Altho%gh plaintiffs have arg%ed that lang%age is inetricably lin(ed to national srcin and c%lt%ral identity, the co%rts have stated that the %se of a lang%age other than &nglish is detrimental to the morale of monoling%al &nglish spea(ers and a single lang%age is necessary to ens%re #or(place harmony and proper management! This paper eamines the co%rt cases #here &nglish 'nly #or(place policies have been challenged, and identifies the prevalent myths and ideologies held by b%sinesses and the co%rts abo%t lang%age %se, identity, and biling%al spea(ers! Thro%gh the process of homogeneism, ling%istic diversity is re$ected as monoling%al &nglish spea(ers are able to create and enforce r%les that favor themselves as they constr%ct the identity of )American* in their o#n image! +ang%age is a central feat%re of h%man identity! hen #e hear someone spea(, #e immediately ma(e g%esses abo%t gender, ed%cation level, age, profession, and place of srcin! -eyond this individ%al matter, a lang%age is a po#erf%l symbol of national and ethnic identity! ./pols(y, 1999, p! 101 INTRODUCTION +ang%age2both code and content2is a complicated dance bet#een internal and eternal interpretations of o%r identity! ithin each community of practice , defined by &c(ert and 3cConnell5inet .1999, p! 10 as gro%ps )#hose $oint engagement in some activity of enterprise is s%fficiently intensive to give rise over time to a repertoire of shared practices,* certain ling%istic .among other practices are %nderstood by the members to be more appropriate than others! hile monoling%al spea(ers are restricted Second Language Studies, 22 .7, /pring 7884, pp! 168!  GIBSON – ENGLISH ONLY COURT CASES INVOLVING THE US !OR"#LACE$ THE %YTHS O&  LANGUAGE USE AN' THE HO%OGENI(ATION O& BILINGUAL !OR"ERS) I'ENTITIES  to altering the content and register of their speech, biling%al spea(ers are able to alter the code, as #ell as content and register, of their lang%age dependent %pon the sit%ation! /pea(ers #ho embrace the identity of a partic%lar comm%nity #ill engage in  positive identity practices , #hile those #ho re$ect the identity #ill %se negative identity practices  to distance themselves from it .-%cholt, 1999! "o#ever, this frame#or( only ta(es into acco%nt the intentions of the spea(er, and neglects the role of the hearer! As /pols(y implies above, lang%age is not only a means for %s to present o%r o#n notion of )#ho #e are,* b%t it is also a #ay for others to pro$ect onto %s their o#n s%ppositions of the #ay )#e m%st be!* Conflict arises #hen the hearer has a different %nderstanding of the spea(er:s identity than the one the spea(er desires! The tension is f%rther compo%nded #hen the hearer is in a position of po#er and can not only misinterpret the desires of the spea(er, b%t can actively th#art this epression, forcing the spea(er into an entirely different, perhaps %n#anted, identity! This plays o%t daily in the #or(places of America, #here &nglish 'nly policies are enforced to maintain the po#erf%l hearers: vie# that good #or(ers spea( &nglish among themselves and refrain from other, inappropriate, lang%ages! The %se of lang%age to constr%ct identity has been eplored in ed%cation .Adger, 1990; -%cholt, 1999; <ordham, 1990; Toohey, 7888, specifically among biling%al /panish&nglish spea(ing st%dents .5arcia, 7881; =avala, 7888 and in biling%al /panish&nglish society as a #hole .>ohnson, 7888; 3orales, 7887; /tepic( ? /tepic(, 7887; Vald@s, 7888; =entella, 7887, b%t little research has foc%sed on biling%als in the #or(place .5oldstein, 199; 3artinovic=ic, 1990! Co%rt cases provide %s the most revealing records of the str%ggle bet#een biling%al #or(ers and their monoling%al employers and ill%strate that, #hile other lang%age gro%ps have been affected by &nglish 'nly policies, the policies have predominantly affected /panish spea(ing comm%nities! Co%rt cases sho# that the ling%istic practices of the #or(place comm%nity of practice have been dictated s%ccessf%lly by the employers, not the members themselves! This disempo#erment has been %pheld by the $%dicial system, #hich believes that lang%age is not a component of ethnic identity, especially in instances #here the employee has the ability to spea( the ma$ority lang%age! As long as the employer ma(es a statement of  b%siness necessity, no matter ho# #ea( or sp%rio%s the arg%ment, the co%rts have agreed 7  GIBSON – ENGLISH ONLY COURT CASES INVOLVING THE US !OR"#LACE$ THE %YTHS O&  LANGUAGE USE AN' THE HO%OGENI(ATION O& BILINGUAL !OR"ERS) I'ENTITIES  that &nglish 'nly policies are not discriminatory! -y identifying &nglish as the only appropriate lang%age bet#een #or(ers, the employer is attempting to mandate a %niform identity .that of &nglish spea(ing #or(er #hile perpet%ating the idea that other lang%ages sho%ld be neither seen nor heard! Th%s, as arbiters of appropriateness and controllers of the homogeniation process, the ma$ority is able to maintain its position of  po#er!"o# is it that, even as the co%rts are loo(ing at the application of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, #hich #as #ritten to protect minority gro%ps from discrimination, they s%pport these discriminatory #or(place practicesB hy is it that a co%ntry that bills itself as )a nation of immigrants* see(s to deny its residents their c%lt%ral heritageB "o# can a citienship that proclaims to val%e independence, individ%ality, and innovation sim%ltaneo%sly s%pport the homogeniation of itselfB In this st%dy, I #ill eamine cases of &nglish 'nly in the #or(place to try to ans#er these %estions! +ippi5reen .199 states that discrimination based on accent is the )last bac( door to discrimination,* b%t this in no #ay implies that it is the only  form of lang%age discrimination that still occ%rs! &ven a c%rsory scan of these co%rt cases #ill sho# that many forms of lang%age discrimination remain pervasive and are, in fact, sanctioned by the co%rts! An eamination of the reasons given by employers to $%stify their negative identity practices, as #ell as $%dicial reasons for accepting these $%stifications, #ill reveal the myths held abo%t lang%age %se and the ideologies s%pporting them! RELATION BETWEEN IDENTITY AND LANGUAGE  Deither identity nor lang%age %se is a fied notion; both are dynamic, depending %pon time and place .Dorton, 199! "o# #e perceive o%rselves changes #ith o%r comm%nity of practice, allo#ing %s m%ltiple identities over the years or even #ithin a day! In disc%ssions of ethnic identity, many have pointed o%t that lang%age is not a necessary re%irement to identify #ith an ethnicity .e!g!, a person may identify themselves as Irish yet not spea( 5aelic; see &astman ? Reese, 1901, or +ieb(ind, 1999! Additionally, an ethnic gro%p or individ%al ascribing to that gro%p may have a symbolic attachment to an E  GIBSON – ENGLISH ONLY COURT CASES INVOLVING THE US !OR"#LACE$ THE %YTHS O&  LANGUAGE USE AN' THE HO%OGENI(ATION O& BILINGUAL !OR"ERS) I'ENTITIES  associated lang%age, b%t may use  another more %tilitarian lang%age instead! 3ore commonly an ethnic gro%p identifies #ith a specific lang%ageF<or the ma$ority of "ispanics, the /panish lang%age r%ns deeply into c%lt%ral and personal identities! AnaldGa:s .190 elo%ent phrasing of this principle capt%res the lang%ageidentity f%sionF )&thnic identity is t#in s(in to ling%istic identity2I am my lang%age* .p! 9! To relin%ish /panish either literally or symbolically .#hich many monoling%al citiens of the Hnited /tates seem to thin( is appropriate for integration into the co%ntry is to relin%ish a significant and po#erf%l dimension of personal and social identity! .>ohnson, 7888, p! 1 "o#ever, all this pres%mes the spea(er is able to selfselect their ethnicity, or more  broadly, their identity!The #or( of the sociologist 5offman has been infl%ential in sho#ing that the self is constr%cted entirely thro%gh disco%rse, ma(ing o%r lang%age choices of paramo%nt importance to o%r identity constr%ction! In fact, he states that personal identity is defined  by ho# others identify %s, not ho# #e identify o%rselves .196E! The spea(er can attempt to infl%ence ho# others perceive them, b%t %ltimately it is the hearer #ho creates the spea(er:s identity! If the spea(er is not allo#ed any infl%ence on their o#n o%tp%t, then the hearer is able to constr%ct an identity for the spea(er #hich may be entirely disparate from the spea(er:s desired identity! This allo#s the hearer an inordinate amo%nt of  po#er, and diminishes the selfs%fficiency and independence of the spea(er! This is a fre%ently %sed techni%e to control pop%lations in settings as diverse as schools, prisons, and #or(places! It is also %sed in national lang%age policies to eting%ish the po#er associated #ith politically )s%bversive* and )inappropriate* lang%ages, s%ch as Catalan in /pain or "o((ien in /ingapore .see ennycoo(, 1994! -eing m%ltiling%al in the wrong   lang%ages is seen as an impediment to integration and hegemony, #hich is e%ated #ith harmony, altho%gh hillipson .1999 has pointed o%t that there is )no straight correlation bet#een a single lang%age s%ch as &nglish and positive ascriptions s%ch as  progress, peace, international %nderstanding, or the en$oyment of h%man rights* .p! 99!4  GIBSON – ENGLISH ONLY COURT CASES INVOLVING THE US !OR"#LACE$ THE %YTHS O&  LANGUAGE USE AN' THE HO%OGENI(ATION O& BILINGUAL !OR"ERS) I'ENTITIES  BILINGUAL IDENTITY -iling%al lang%age %se by a minority gro%p is often analyed as having t#o componentsF the )#e* vers%s )they* code .5%mper, 1907; +ambert, 197 in =entella, 1998, or the high vers%s lo# lang%age .Vald@s, 7888! The minority lang%age )#e* code represents ingro%p speech! It connotes intimacy and is largely confined to the home  beca%se it s%ffers lo#er prestige than the )they* code or high lang%age, #hich is the lang%age of the more po#erf%l gro%p and is associated #ith #ealth and stat%s! In an &nglish spea(ing environment, /panish spea(ers may choose to %se /panish to signify themselves as different from the dominant gro%p, #hile sim%ltaneo%sly creating camaraderie #ith other /panish spea(ers! These choices are made not only #ithin sit%ations, b%t #ithin conversations! Code s#itching is another form of lang%age %se, #hich can be at once ecl%sionary and incl%sionary!It serves to create an important sense of Jthem: and J%s:, as o%tsiders cannot easily share in this ling%istic codeK! To insiders this is a legitimate form of comm%nication #ith its o#n %nconscio%s r%les and forms! It serves as an important identity mar(er for the /panishspea(ing comm%nity, and li(e any ling%istic code, is a dynamic, evolving symbol of solidarity! .3ar3olinero, 7888, p! 10hile o%tsiders may vie# code s#itching or code miing as a deficient ability to spea( &nglish .=entella, 7887, those #ho spea( )/panglish* may see it as representative of their identities as /panish spea(ing Americans! )/panglish is #hat #e spea(, b%t it is also #ho #e +atinos are, and ho# #e act, and ho# #e perceive the #orld* .3orales, 7887, p! E! /o m%ch of the disc%ssion of m%ltiling%alism ass%mes that the spea(ers are e%ally  proficient in all lang%ages! -%t for many, altho%gh they have at least a f%ndamental  proficiency in &nglish, they are not comfortable #ith the lang%age! Altho%gh able to create grammatically correct %tterances, they are %nable to f%lly epress themselves and create their desired identity! They may rely on their primary lang%age beca%se it is a %ic(er and more effective comm%nication tool! <or many then, lang%age is not a 
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