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Commerce, Justice, Science, And Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Chairman, I do rise in support of the Stearns-Blackburn amendment to protest the actions of a rogue government agency that really is out of control, and I thank Mr. Stearns for his good work and his good efforts on this with us.

The EEOC, as we have heard, it is taxpayer funded, and it is tasked with eradicating discrimination in the workplace. Now, unfortunately, the organization's actions are speaking louder than their words, and certainly they are not in step with the mission that they are instructed to meet. What we see is an agency that is waging war against private employers who have English-speaking policies and English-only language policies in their workplace and with their workforce.

Now, as my colleague from Florida has said, the situation we have discussed is in 2004, we had two employees from a Massachusetts Salvation Army Thrift Store. They were instructed to learn English within 1 year to comply with that organization's English-only language policy on the job. The employees refused to comply or even to make a good-faith effort. I think that everyone would like to see them make a good-faith effort to learn the language. And they were summarily dismissed in December of 2005. So they had that full year.

Interestingly enough, the two employees were able to navigate their way through the bureaucratic system and get the EEOC to file a discrimination lawsuit against the Salvation Army in April 2007, despite their limited command of the English language. The turn of events would be laughable if it were not true, and if the consequences were not as grave as they are.

Yet, in 2006 alone, roughly 200 charges were filed alleging discrimination due to English-language-only policies in different workplaces. This explosion of claims against workplace English is a 612 percent increase since 1996.

Mr. Chairman, I think that is one of the things that is of concern to us; 612 percent. That is the increase in these claims against American small businesses, against the businesses that are employing our citizens. We have gone from 32 cases in 1996 to 228 in 2002, according to the EEOC alone, and what we see is those misplaced priorities of the EEOC.

As my colleague previously mentioned, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has a backlog of 45,265 cases right now. They expect that that backlog will grow to 67,108 complaints in fiscal year 2008.

Mr. Chairman, it does not take an organizational genius to figure this out. What we see is people are not getting their workload done. What we see is the EEOC is putting their energy on something that they don't need to be putting it on, and they have those misplaced priorities, so therefore the items that they are supposed to be addressing in order to meet their mission are languishing in their in-box. They are never getting around to addressing those files. So those are continuing to pile up.

What we see is that they should be taking their resources; they have plenty of employees, they have plenty of funds. This is not an issue of them having more money or more resources. This is an issue of them putting their work and making their priorities where they need to be, of addressing these problems, kind of getting their nose to the grindstone, if you will, and getting in behind those cases and getting them done not over here suing U.S. small businesses that are employing our citizens, not over here suing the mom-and-pops who have the right, because they are signing the paycheck, they are paying the payroll taxes, they establish their workplace policies.

And they have the right to say we would like you to learn English. We should be incentivizing them to insist on having those employees learn English so that they better communicate with their employer and so they know how to communicate and they are learning by that interaction with those customers.

We know so well, those of us who have so many small businesses in our districts, many of these small businesses see these people as true friends.


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