Bosses to workers: Speak English only or be fired, employees say

National

HAINES CITY, Fla. (CNN) – Seven employees at the Florida Department of Health Clinic in Haines City say they’re being harassed by management for speaking Spanish at work.

All of the women are from Puerto Rico and claim the harassment has gone on for more than a year.

“It feels like you’re a criminal, you’re doing something that is wrong,” said Mairyli Miranda, one of the nurses.

Miranda is one of the 7 nurses and clerks at the Florida Department of Health Clinic who allege they’re being harassed for speaking Spanish at work.

“Horrible.. never in my life did I think I was going to go through a situation like this one,” said Miranda.

The women say they were all hired because they are bilingual.

Haines City has a high Hispanic population after all.

But they say management has forbidden them to speak Spanish to each other.

“We’re very respectful and we take into account when someone’s in the room or near us that doesn’t speak our language. We speak their language out of courtesy. It’s just right,” said Maria Rivera, a clerk with the clinic.

They claim the harassment has intensified in the last year, but has gone on for much longer.

“We have monthly meetings and they’ve said it there. Very like with character, very rudely also… we had three different people, coworkers, bosses to tell us that,” said Rivera.

They’ve also filed a complaint with the Polk County Health Department and have also reached out to Tallahassee, but they say no action has been taken.

Activists have taken notice and are stepping in to support the women.

“We just want someone who can be a good leader, you know? Because if you can’t work with different cultures, I think you’re not a good person to be a leader,” said Rivera.

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