Impact of proposed English-speaking bill on Tennessee

By: Stephen McLamb
By: Stephen McLamb

Knoxville (WVLT) -- A bill has passed the state senate and is now headed to the house would give employers a right to hire only English- speaking people.

WVLT Volunteer TV's Stephen McLamb spoke with businesses and leaders of the Hispanic community about the bill and has more

Some business owners say they are pleased it's voluntary and not mandatory.

But some in the Hispanic community feel it's a state's way of dealing with illegal immigration and could lead to discrimination.

In running a business, language barriers can be a problem.

Ken Hawkins, Money to Go owner says, "if they can't understand us then we can't really do business with them and vice versa, sometimes we can't understand them."

A bill now goes to the state House from the Senate which would allow employers the right to mandate workers speak English in the workplace.

Darrell Parrott, Wholesale Transmission Service Owner says, "I'm one hundred percent for it."

Darrell Parrott owns Wholesale Transmission Service in Blount county.

His employees do technical work that he must relay from customers and if the employee can't speak English like Parrott.

Parrott says, "to me, he would be just useless. I mean, it just absolutely couldn't work. I don't know of any way of making it work."

But down the road at Money To Go, owner Ken Hawkins and his employees deal with the public and not everybody they deal with speaks English.

"Our Spanish speaking community is growing around here and so I would not be totally against hiring someone that is fluent in Spanish."

The bill would not be mandatory but let individual business owners decide, something both Parrott and Hawkins agree on.

Roberto Martinez, with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce says,"well, I think that will be detrimental for our community in general."

Martinez disagrees with the bill.

He feels it is a violation of free speech.

With the bill allowing for discretion, that, he says, sometimes leads to discrimination by some business owners.

"Wouldn't know the difference between the point of discrimination and the point of making an assessment as of how to hire an employee or hiring and firing an employee."

Representative Doug Overybey says Senator Raymond Finney was a cosponsor of the senate bill.

Both Finney and Representative Joe McCord were unavailable for comment on the bill.

Overbey says he has not yet read the bill and was unable to comment.


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  • by Dave Location: Indianapolis on Mar 14, 2008 at 07:50 PM
    UPDATE! WE ARE WINNING THIS ONE! ONLY 27 MORE SIGNERS NEEDED! YESTERDAY THE NUMBER OF LAWMAKERS NEEDED WAS 50! Get behind THE SAVE ACT TODAY! NOW! Only 27 more signers to get this bill to the floor, for a vote! Yesterday 50 more co-sponsors were needed? This federal law outweighs all other state immigration enforcement bills, and will put teeth in removing illegal aliens from our nation. This by-partisan bill has 171 co-signers of both parties. This is a great chance for public opinion do do something, before the new president steps into office. It's a fight against the globalist, open border, free market agenda, to implement the free-movement of people in our country. This is a fight for the American worker, their jobs, language and our quality of life. This is not about a individuals race, creed or religion, its about our suffering economy! This is about national security! House Speaker Pelosi is trying to undermine this Rep.Shuler bill, and plan instead to bring in millions of more low wage foreigners, while we still have to deal with the 12 to 20 million illegal aliens who have occupied our lands. SAVE Act (H.R. 4088) on November 6, 2007, emphasizing the principles of Attrition Through Enforcement The SAVE Act will broaden and enhance border security and interior enforcement. The question is why are Democrats are not co-authoring the SAVE ACT in greater numbers? Democrats in my family are asking the same question? Demand your representative co-sponsor the SAVE ACT. Fax for free your Senator or Congressman at NUMBERSUSA.COM or FAIRUS.ORG Alternatively: Email your Representative at: http://www.house.gov/ or http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_informa...
  • by Barbara Location: Seattle, WA on Mar 12, 2008 at 09:42 PM
    I just wanted to say a few words. If you go into any Mexican owned business you will not find one white person working there. That in my opinion is discrimination. They hire their own. They do the same in Seattle,WA which is a sanctuary city.
  • by Karen Location: TN on Mar 12, 2008 at 06:42 PM
    I'd really like to see this bill passed. I work two jobs and I'm tired of trying to talk to someone in English and have them look at me like I'm an idiot. If you're going to live over here then learn ENGLISH. If I'm planning to go to Mexico then I will learn Spanish. This is not a violation of Free Speech. This should simply be a common factor for all of the United States of America.
  • by Ling-Ling Location: Oakland, CA on Mar 12, 2008 at 06:37 PM
    English-only bill should be supported, but we need to have a time-out from mass immigration because allowing some 2 million legal and illegal immigrants to enter the U.S. a year, plus their U.S.-born children, will mean more job-seekers, energy users, and people needing health care, education and other very costly social services. Also, racial tensions are bound to rise as the population continues to explode.
  • by JOEY Location: KNOXVILLE on Mar 12, 2008 at 03:10 PM
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
  • by Caroline Location: Dayton on Mar 12, 2008 at 12:22 PM
    LLOL=Learn the Language or Leave. That's it in a nutshell. Where does any other country cater to English speaking ILLEGALS? It is frustrating to try to communicate what you are needing to someone who doesn't speak English or is pretending not to for the fun of it.
  • by chris on Mar 12, 2008 at 06:28 AM
    As an American citizen in America, I have a right to expect when I go in a business establishment to have English speaking services offered. It is not discrimination in any form. If I go into a business in any other country they will comunicate to me in the language of their country. I do not consider that discrimination against me because I do not speak in their language. This is a ploy to always bring up the word discrimination. It is used by activist to promote their agenda. And their agenda is against the American way.
  • by Stan Location: Jones on Mar 11, 2008 at 10:29 PM
    This bill would be a civil rights violation. It'd be funny to see it pass. It'd be even funnier to see someone try to enforce. So, let's not even go there.
  • by Bob Location: Scott on Mar 11, 2008 at 10:19 PM
    I think that English should be the national language of the United States. If we as Americans were to move to another country and ask for them to speak English so that we can understand, then we would be laughed because other countries have no desire to change to make us (Americans) happy. If you move to American from a non-English speaking country and wish to work, then it should be an unspoken understanding that you will speak English in the workplace. This should not even be a topic of discussion, or an issue that employers have to deal with.
  • by Richard Location: Seymour on Mar 11, 2008 at 10:15 PM
    Hiring an immigrant, of any origin (Romanian, Russian Etc.) NOT JUST SPANISH, that cant speak English is like hiring a deaf person, no offense to the hearing impaired. Taking into consideration that if you work in the Construction Field you waste a lot of time teaching someone how to do a job because they miss something in the translation. Its time and money lost. I was showing something who couldnt speak english how to operate a Quicky Saw and when it ran out of fuel that it took 2 cycle fuel not regular. They ended up putting in the regular fuel causing the saw to freeze up. All because they couldnt read the container that was written in english. Needless to say this was not the first time this happened. It happened to other equipment as well. It cost the company a lot of unneeded cost. I was asked to take a class to learn Spanish, needless to say I turned around and said NO. The way I looked at it was "YOU COME INTO THIS COUNTRY TO WORK LEARN TO SPEAK AND WRITE ENGLISH.
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