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California English Only Rules

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Quick Summary

Most private employers cannot adopt an English-only policy requiring that employees only use the English language while at work. Such a policy constitutes an unlawful employment practice. The policy can also violate regulations intended to protect worker safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Employers are Included in the Law

Any employer regularly employing five or more persons.

Included are government agencies.

Excluded from the definition and law are:
Religious Associations

However - every employer must have an injury and illness prevention program, and communicate that program in a readily understandable manner to each employee.

Do English-Only Prohibitions only apply to the English Language?

No. Although the law will most commonly be applied for English-only rules, the law applies to any language. Covered employers cannot prohibit the use of any particular language in the workplace.

Why Haven't I Heard of this Law?

The law became effective in California on January 1, 2002.

How to Comply with the Law

1. Eliminate English-only policies from employee handbooks and other documents

2. Translate documents into the language used by employees

More Information is Available with a Premium Subscription

  • The Requirements for Imposing a Valid English-only Rule

  • What are the Workplace Safety Rules

  • Steps to comply with the law

  • Legal Research - Text of pertinent California statutes

  • Legal Research - Text of pertinent California worker safety regulation

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