Can I be denied a promotion because I’m not Spanish

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can I be denied a promotion because I’m not Spanish

I’ve been up for a sous chef promotion
four times in the past nine months. I
was told each time to keep up what I’m
doing and I would become a salaried
employee. Every time I was up for this
promotion some minor almost made up
offense dropped me back down. Again and
again this happened. The final reason
was because I don’t speak Spanish..
But why put this same promotion in my
grasp four times inside of one year.
Now I’m being singled out as an
untrustworthy person without cause.
There’s much more to my story

Asked on January 20, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You can be denied a promotion for almost any reason EXCEPT discrimination on the basis of race or national origin--and discrimination against someone due to the language they speak is often held to be racial or national origin discrimination, unless the employer can demonstrate a good, business-related reason for requiring knowledge of a language (for example: a business servicing the Hispanic market could justify only having customer service people who speak Spanish, so they can communicate with the customers). There does not appear to be a valid, business-related reason to require a chef to speak Spanish, so this may well be illegal discriminaton. You should contact the federal EEOC to discuss filing a discrimination complaint.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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