Orange County Nursing Home Chain Settles EEOC Suit

A lawsuit alleging that Orange County based nursing home chain singled out Spanish speakers when enforcing an English-only policy has been settled. Skilled Healthcare Group was ordered to pay up to $450,000 for punishing Spanish speaking employees for violating the policy, but not enforcing it against other non-English speakers.

According to news reports, Latino workers in the nursing facility were prohibited from speaking Spanish to Spanish-speaking residents, and were also subject to disciplinary action if they spoke Spanish on their breaks, even in the employee parking lot.

In one case at the Royalwood Care Center in Torrance, she said, a resident told her in Spanish that she needed to use the restroom. When Schilling responded in Spanish, she said, she was told by a supervisor that she would be written up or fired if she continued to speak that language.

Yet some of the supervisors and charge nurses would speak a different language, such as Tagalog, she said. She left the firm after less than a year.

English-only workplace policies are permitted under the law if there is a business necessity for them. Under the settlement ordered by the EEOC, the company will pay $180,000 for distribution among 53 claimants, and offer English classes. If the class is completed, each employee will receive an additional $2,500.

The nursing home malpractice attorneys at Walton Law Firm LLP represent seniors and dependent adults who are victims of neglect, abuse, mistreatment, and malpractice in the nursing home, assisted living, and residential care setting. Cases in all Southern California counties are accepted, including San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, and Imperial.