There’s a well-known proverb attributed to Saint Ambrose (c.340-397), whose advice to Saint Augustine reads: “WHEN IN ROME, DO AS THE ROMANS DO – don’t set your own rules when you are someone’s guest.”
In short what Dr. Marilyn Pearson Health Director at the Johnston County Health Department in North Carolina, did was simply a good business decision, in that basic communication skills in English should be practiced by everyone, which simply means “everyone” within an interactive working environment should be understood, plain and simple.
Dr. Person’s decree came about when staff members complained that it was getting difficult to communicate with those employees speaking another language in the office making it hard to complete tasks in a timely manner, thus affecting productivity.
In an e-mail, Dr. Person informed her entire staff that English only would be spoken in the office stating; “For the comfort of employees and to be respectful of others who do not share that language, staff are asked to speak English in the office when not on breaks or personal time.”
However North Carolina isn’t Rome and as expected the rabid left descended on the good doctor, groups like the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission went on the attack.
Accusing Dr. Person of discriminating against immigrants, and leading the charge as always are those activist attorneys like George Eppsteiner who claim Dr. Person’s allegations about a language barrier at the Johnston County Health Department, couldn’t be correct.
Eppsteiner suggested the Dr. Person’s rule was “problematic,” and that there “didn’t seem to be any pressing ‘comfort of employees’ to implement this type of policy.”
James Ryan, a spokesman for the group, said that “employees have the right to speak other languages as long as they do not inconvenience customers or co-workers or cause any trouble for their employer in doing so.”
And that’s where the issue currently stands, in the degree of whether one employee can understand the other, and if productivity is being compromised, perhaps the next time Dr. Person hires an employee she should make sure all the verbal answers are in ENGLISH…problem solved!
In many nations like Spain, for example, immigrants must pass a test showing they can speak Spanish before becoming citizens.
Would you like to see the same here in the United States?