[IPAC-List] foreign language as a minimum requirement for employment

Pluta, Paul ppluta at hr.lacounty.gov
Fri Jan 9 15:16:35 EST 2009

I have been seeing bilingual as a requirement for employment
increasingly over the past few years. What if such a requirement
results in adverse impact for different groups based on national origin?
What are the criteria for defensibility in terms of the job-relatedness
of the requirement? Is this requirement most often based on a "business
necessity" or "customer preference"? Does anyone know if this
requirement has ever been challenged in court? It seems to me that any
organization that does business exclusively within the borders of the
United States (excluding some territories, such as Puerto Rico) would
only be imposing the requirement based on customer preference. However,
multinational corporations that conduct business on a regional or global
scale may be able to make a better argument for business necessity.
Where is the line that divides customer preference from business
necessity in this situation? Are there any thoughts, experiences, or
opinions anyone would like to share?

Paul E. Pluta, MA, SPHR

Human Resources Analyst III

Los Angeles County Department of Human Resources

Workforce Planning, Test Research, & Appeals Division

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