What's Spanish for "Big Honking Lawsuit"?
A North Carolina elementary school hired a secretary because, among other reasons of course, she was bilingual. Sensible, in a school district that's half Hispanic and has many parents who don't speak English natively.
Except that in 2008, the principal of the school instituted a policy: Faculty and staff may not speak Spanish to parents. No reason was given.
When a parent came in, hysterical, and claiming (in Spanish, of course) that her seven-year-old had been sexually abused in the school, the principal refused to let the secretary translate, saying that the child should do it. The parent left, still crying, without an answer.
On another occasion, the secretary claims that the assistant principal screamed at her for speaking Spanish to a parent, and told her that she empathized with the parents because "you crossed the border just like them." When the secretary suggested that she might sue for civil rights violations, the assistant principal answered that the secretary could be fired, and she needed a job, because she had children to take care of.
The secretary tried to file a complaint with HR, who said the principal wouldn't change the policy, and the principal wouldn't let her return to the school without signing documents related to the policy (presumably some sort of "I will follow the policy" contract). The secretary asked to be transferred, HR said there were no positions open, and as such, the secretary lost her job.
The secretary is now suing the school district for Title VII discrimination, Title VII retaliation (that is, firing her for making the complaint), negligent supervision of the principal, and wrongful termination under North Carolina law.
Here's a link to the complaint filed in North Carolina state court.
Unfortunately, the Department of Justice declined to sue (which is not to say they don't think there's a case; it's a resources thing, I'd guess), so even if the secretary wins, that won't stop the practice. So, if you want, go here to sign change.org's petition.
In the words of Uncle Yo: "Every morning I wake up, turn on the TV, and feel a need to roll a Sanity check. I've been losing those a lot lately."
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