TN Bill Permits English-Only Policies in Workplaces

June 29, 2010 ( – Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen has signed a bill declaring that it is not discriminatory for employers to establish English-only policies where there are legitimate business reasons for them.

The Associated Press reports that Bredesen spokeswoman Lydia Lenker said the governor signed the measure because it does not change Tennessee law and it contains unrelated employment protections for volunteer rescue squad workers. The news report noted that federal courts have ruled that employers can require workers to speak English when it is for a business or safety reason but not at other times, like when they are on breaks.  

The protections for volunteer rescue squad workers provide that they cannot be fired for being late to work or missing work because they were responding to an emergency.