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Is the Accent too Thick

September 18, 1998
Related Topics: Discrimination and EEOC Compliance, Featured Article
Have you interviewed a job applicant with an accent, and were concerned about how the accent would affect customer service? Were you concerned that rejecting the applicant would constitute discrimination?

If you are going to reject an applicant because of an accent, you must consider whether the rejection is discriminatory or if it is because of the effect of the accent on a particular job.

You must show a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for the denial of employment opportunity because of someone’s accent or the way they talk. Also, if you require employees to be fluent in English, you could be violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 if this requirement is not related to job performance.

Source: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Washington, D.C. August 1998.

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