English-Only Lawsuit Settled For $2.4 Million

The University of the Incarnate Word in Texas recently settled a national origin discrimination lawsuit brought by the EEOC for $2.4 million. The EEOC claimed that 18 former housekeepers were subjected to verbal and physical abuse for speaking Spanish on the job. They were allegedly hit, pinched, had their hair pulled and called "stupid Mexicans" by a supervisor when they spoke Spanish at work. Some did not speak English, and all were forbidden to speak Spanish, even during lunch breaks.

The University will pay $1 million in damages and provide tuition waivers, worth $1.4 million, which can be used by the former employees, their children, or grandchildren.

The EEOC also announced that discrimination charges about English-only policies have increased greatly during the 1990s. The agency received 91 such charges in 1996 and 443 in 2000.