Saturday, August 30, 2008

English Only at LPGA?

Is English required to work as a janitor? To work as a golfer?

My clients and I successfully have challenged workplace English-Only language bans, and my interest piqued when I saw this headline on LPGA’s English Policy Draws PGA Criticism.

The Ladies Professional Golf Association will require all players to be proficient in English starting in 2009. Players who cannot pass an English test can be suspended from the tour. Currently 121 international players from 26 countries work on the LPGA Tour.

NBC asks: Imagine what could have happened to Angel Cabrera if he belonged to a tour that required its players to speak English. A powerful Argentine who rose from an impoverished childhood, he won the U.S. Open last year at Oakmont by holding off Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk. In the hours after the trophy presentation, Cabrera made his way through a maze of media interviews in Spanish with an interpreter at his side. Under the new LPGA policy, he might have been suspended. Or, he might not have played at all if an official on that tour deemed he was ineffective in English.

Apparently the LPGA Tour is still working on the policy, which will be delivered to players at the end of the year. According to an LPGA rep, players won’t have to be "fluent" just “effective.” The stated rationale is that players have to interact effectively with pro-am partners, do media interviews, and give a winner’s acceptance speech.

The LPGA Tour has offered an on-line language training through a Rosetta Stone computer program.

Some workers' rights advocates are furious. "This policy is tantamount to national origin discrimination, which is prohibited under Civil Rights Act," said Vincent A. Eng, deputy director of AAJC. “The policy is an affront to our American principles of diversity and equality."

"There is already a strong endorsement incentive for the players to learn English to increase their global marketability," said Tuyet G. Duong, senior staff attorney at AAJC. "The new LPGA policy along with their actions to have a special meeting with the South Korean players, smacks of clear discriminatory targeting of those players."

The Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) urges the LPGA sponsors to withdraw support of the Tour until the English proficiency policy is retracted.

The NBC report pointed out the difficulty these players face:

A few months ago, K.J. Choi of South Korea had finished a brief interview when a reporter tried to say, “Thank you” in Korean, but told him he forgot the word. Choi laughed and playfully shared this thought with his agent.

“I taught him one word seven years ago and he still doesn’t remember,” he said. “And he expects me to learn his entire language?”


NBCS ports :