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.
However - every employer must have an injury and illness prevention program, and communicate that program in a readily understandable manner to each employee.
Excluded from the definition and law are:
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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