On July 10, 2023, the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission (HCRC) announced the settlement of a complaint alleging employment discrimination on the basis of ancestry and sex at a Waikiki hotel. In addition to $85,000 in monetary relief for the complainant, the settlement called for the elimination of the hotel’s policy requiring that only English be spoken by employees during certain times while at work, as well as training requirements for supervisors, managers, and employees.
State law prohibits an employer from implementing a policy requiring that employees speak only English (or another specific language) at all times in the workplace, including work breaks. While an employer may implement a rule requiring employees to speak English at certain times during work, the employer must demonstrate that the policy is justified by business necessity. The business purpose must be sufficiently compelling to override any discriminatory impact.
For details, see the HCRC press release here.