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Posted On: April 17, 2009 by Peter M. LaSorsa

Skilled Healthcare Group Pays $450,000 To Settle EEOC Lawsuit Over Discrimination

Skilled Healthcare Group will pay up to $450,000 and offer remedial relief to settle a lawsuit alleging discrimination in penalizing the company's Hispanic workers in California and Texas for speaking Spanish in their workplaces. The EEOC Lawsuit alleged Hispanic employees at the company's nursing homes and assisted living facilities were subjected to harassment; and to different terms and conditions of employment, promotion, compensation and treatment because of an English-only rule enforced only against Hispanics, which is a form of racial discrimination.

The EEOC found that 53 current and former Hispanic workers were subjected to the different treatment and harassment. The EEOC said some workers were prohibited from speaking Spanish to Spanish-speaking residents of the facilities and were disciplined for speaking Spanish in the parking lots while on breaks.

"As our country's workforce becomes increasingly diverse, employers must be vigilant in ensuring that if English-only rules are necessary, they are not discriminatory," EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru.

As part of the relief agreed to in the settlement, the company will offer English-language classes to the 53 claimants. The three-year consent decree, approved by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, also requires that employees receive annual training on national origin discrimination; the company educate its residents and patients on the rights of employees under Title VII; and the company must report annually to the EEOC on its employment practices.

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