English-Only Amendment Blocked By US House

The House of Representatives recently passed a $516 billion omnibus spending measure that addresses a number of issues, including the funding of various Cabinet departments and the funding of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. In passing the omnibus bill – which President Bush is expected to eventually sign – Democratic lawmakers were successful in blocking an amendment that would have barred the government from suing employers who try to enforce English only workplace rules.

Republican lawmakers proposed the amendment, in response to the EEOC’s recent decision to sue the Salvation Army for firing two Hispanic after they did not learn English within one-year. The EEOC’s suit claims that the terminated employees suffered “emotional pain, humiliation, and embarrassment” as a result of the Salvation Army’s English only policy.

In addition, a provision that would have barred the Labor Department from enforcing new financial reporting requirements on various unions was also jettisoned from the bill. Union members are currently required to fill out a two page form certifying their personal financial dealings with any company represented by their union. Under the new rules being promulgated by the Bush Administration, employees would be required to submit expanded information on their finances. Unions claim the new rules are invasive, while the Labor Department says they will “enhance union integrity” by strengthening conflict-of-interest reporting. Click here for a summary of omnibus bill.

Stay tuned for new developments as the spending bill works its way through the Senate and eventually to President Bush’s desk.
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