Academic journal article The Journal of Gender, Race and Justice

English-Only Rules: Title VII, Title II, and the Ladies Professional Golf Association's Proposed English-Only Rule

Academic journal article The Journal of Gender, Race and Justice

English-Only Rules: Title VII, Title II, and the Ladies Professional Golf Association's Proposed English-Only Rule

Article excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

Se Ri Pak joined the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour in 1 998 at the age of twenty. ' That same year, she won Rookie of the Year, winning four tournaments and two major championships.2 Since then, she has compiled twenty-four tournament wins, five major championships, over ten million dollars in career earnings, and a spot in the World GoIfHaIl of Fame.3 One of the LPGA's most successful golfers, Se Ri Pak has won plenty of awards, sponsorships, and tournaments during her eleven-year career.4 However, it has not always been easy for the South Korean player.5 She shouldered the attention and pressure of a nation.6 She battled homesickness and dealt with loneliness and a lack of friends.7 Pak struggled with English and was very self-conscious about speaking it early in her career.8 She eventually learned English from the media, picking it up bit by bit through each media interview she completed.9

Many view Si Ri Pak as responsible for the influx of South Korean golfers in the LPGA.10 During her rookie year, only two South Koreans played on the LPGA Tour." In 2009, forty-seven South Korean players competed in the LPGA Tour.12 In August of 2008, the LPGA proposed an English-only rule that would suspend players if they could not demonstrate a basic level of communication in English.13 While the ability to communicate in English is beneficial for international players, establishing an Englishonly rule as a barrier to participation on the LPGA Tour is discriminatory and harmful. Se Ri Pak struggled with English early in her career.14 If the English-only rule had been in place early in Si Ri Pak' s career, she may not have had such great success and become an icon of the LPGA as she is today.

First, this Note will discuss the English-only rule the LPGA proposed in August 2008. Second, it will address how Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title II) apply to the LPGA's proposed English-only policy. Third, it will examine the history of English-only rules under Title VII and whether English-only rules violate Title VII under one of the protected classes listed under the national origin statute. Fourth, it will consider whether the LPGA qualifies as a private club that is exempt from Title VII and Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Finally, it will explore what claims discriminated LPGA players, more specifically the South Korean players, might bring under Title VII and Title II.

II. BACKGROUND

This section will discuss Title VII and the types of claims that might be brought under Title VII. Additionally, it will discuss the history of Englishonly rules under Title VII, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) guidelines, and how the federal courts have addressed English-only rules in the workplace. Finally, this section will discuss Title II and the type of claim that protected individuals may bring under the statute.

A. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Congress enacted Title VII to "achieve equality of employment opportunities and to remove artificial, arbitrary, and unnecessary barriers to employment."15 Title VII shields individuals in a protected class from invidious discrimination.16 Title VII makes it illegal for employers to discriminate based on an individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.17 The statute provides that it "shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer ... to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race color, religion, sex, or national origin . . . ."li! Title VII applies to state and local governments, employment agencies, and all employers and labor organizations in industries affecting commerce that have fifteen or more employees or members. …

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