We’ve blogged about professional translation services and employer’s vicarious liability. According to Florida law, an employer can legally prohibit employees from conversing in a foreign language. However, it is not this straight forward. In order to prohibit a foreign language from being spoken in the workplace, one typically must tie the prohibition to a legitimate reason.
Under Florida law, this reasoning can be as general as stating that speaking in a foreign language that other employees cannot understand can be considered rude and not conducive to a positive work environment. Another common justification is for safety reasons and the need for employees to be able to communicate.
But even with a justification, before a foreign language can be prohibited this fact has to be made part of company policy. First, the company policy must prohibit the speaking of foreign language in general and not a specific language. Further, company policy must be sufficiently communicated to employees, which means that if the employees can only read a foreign language, the employment policy must contain a foreign language translation.