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Old 02-12-2009, 12:15 AM
 
Location: Miami, Florida
20 posts, read 82,014 times
Reputation: 24
Default Miami Jobs For People Who Do Not Speak Spanish?

Hi Miamians...maybe you can help me out.

Like many of us in Florida and across the USA- I am now a statistic- ie: unemployed. Laid off in August, and needless to say, life has been absolutely no fun.

I have a question that I am posting here because I needed the advice of some locals before I take this matter further.

Long story short, I have been interviewing, and the last company I interviewed with last week (based out of Boston, but with job ops in Miami) asked me if I spoke Spanish. I am American, I do speak quite a bit (spoke it at work about 60% of the time), I will go to Navarro and the gas station and speak Spanish, etc. But since my last name is non-Hispanic, I run into this more often than not.

My concern is that the HR president I interviewed informed me that all applicants to be considered MUST be bilingual. The job is located in the Pinecrest area, which generally does not have the same language issues as say Hialeah, Westchester, etc. But that is besides the point.

My question is: the qualifications coming from the HR president: is this company considered to be an equal opportunity employer? Will I not get the job because of my non-Hispanic last name? And if so, is there anything that can be done? I am not looking to get anyone in trouble, sue, or anything like that...but for a company that states they are an EEO- they sure don't seem to be.

And this is coming out of the mouth of the HR President.

I would really appreciate any input on this matter. Everywhere I look, I am running into the same issue.

Thanks in advance!

Miami Native
Lingonberry

 
Old 02-12-2009, 08:16 AM
 
Location: Houston, Tx
3,644 posts, read 3,499,525 times
Reputation: 1585
I'm surpirsed that they would require Spanish for Pinecrest. If there's anywhere White left in Dade county it's Pinecrest.
If you think your Spanish is godo enough to be considered Bilingual you should try to do the interview in Spanish and also point out to the HR person that Pinecrest is mostly non-Hispanic. Is the HR office somewhere other than Pinecrest? If so, they might not be aware of the demographics there.
I don't know if it is legal or not for them to refuse to hire you or not in this situation but I do know you'll never be able to prove why they didn't hire you. I also know that HR departments down here do a lot of their hiring based on racial and country-of-origin factors. It's just a part of life. What kind of work are you in?
 
Old 02-12-2009, 09:07 AM
 
Location: Downtown Raleigh, NC
2,082 posts, read 4,972,152 times
Reputation: 1256
I definitely understand where you're coming from, since I've experienced it myself. However, what are the functions of the position? Will you be dealing with the public or with international clients? Is this a "required skill" for qualifying for the position, based on the ability to successfully complete the duties, or just something that they added on?

I would inquire as to exactly what the duties are to see how the bilingual aspect fits in, and then you might have a better idea of whether your abilities would normally be suitable. For example, for a position that mainly sits behind a desk and interacts primarily with others in the office as opposed to the public, I don't think that being bilingual would be an absolute requirement.
 
Old 02-12-2009, 11:07 AM
 
Location: Miami/ Washington DC
4,675 posts, read 4,949,954 times
Reputation: 2195
Well there is nothing wrong with making it a requirement to speak another language or spanish there are a lot of jobs which require certain skills. If you speak spanish well enough for them than i dont see why you would not get the job. I dont think you name should have anything to do with it. If you feel and have proof that they dont hire you soley beacuse your not hispanic than they have a legal issue on their hands and you could sue them for discrimination. But if you have a heavy accent or do not speak it fluently and thats what they need than thats what they need and there is nothing than can be done about it.
Good Luck hope you get the job.
 
Old 02-12-2009, 01:18 PM
 
Location: Miami, Florida
20 posts, read 82,014 times
Reputation: 24
Default more details about the job

I am in the lovely world of Retail Managment. This company is based in New England, the HR guy is in Atlanta, and the District Manager is in Orlando. This will be their first Miami store. When I got the call for the first interview, the first question the DM had for me is "Do you speak Spanish." The HR also asked me that in the second interview also.

I am waiting to hear back from them (its between me and one other candidate- I wish they had not told me that!)

On a side note, I have worked in the past at both Dolphin and Miami International Mall for many years in the past and I can honestly tell you- it was often problematic. Not because of my intermediate Spanish skills, but because the customers- (including tourists!) would always tell me I needed to speak Spanish because I live here. Its getting really old.

I did let the HR guy know that I was born and raised here, I know the market and community well, and I told him the area where they will be opening is generally a non-issue when it comes to language barriers. I told him all about the demographic and etc...I told him if they hired me I had amazing talented former associates/assistant managers I could bring to the team.

His response? (in his Georgia twang)

"Really? That's great for staffing. How many people do you have that may want to work for us?"

I tell him about 6 or 7.

"Are they bilingual?"

4 of them are.

"Well, if we hire you, bring the 4 to interview with us. The others unfortunately will not qualify because our Regional Manager requires that everybody speak Spanish."

If I get the job, I will be happy but concerned. And if I don't get it...and am told the person they selected is bilingual- I will be livid.

The reason I mentioned my last name being a hinderance is because in this market...it actually is. I have a friend- lets call her "Andrea Rodriguez" and she speaks not a word of Spanish. But she has never had problems getting work- she has never even been questioned about her being able to speak Spanish or not.

So...am I going to be forced to leave this city? Is it really fair? I realize life is not always fair...but what else am I supposed to do?

Feedback appreciated....
 
Old 02-12-2009, 05:42 PM
 
41 posts, read 115,373 times
Reputation: 30
This is very simple, businesses exist to make money and to do that they must do all to attract customers, so if customers with money prefer to speak a certain language, then the business must abide. If not, some other businesses will and lure away your customers. Unless you have some special skills then you must learn that language to be competative. nothing personal
 
Old 02-12-2009, 07:20 PM
 
Location: FL
8 posts, read 28,822 times
Reputation: 17
It's not just Miami...it's everywhere in FL. Being bilingual puts you at the top of the interview list.
 
Old 02-13-2009, 09:17 AM
 
Location: Downtown Raleigh, NC
2,082 posts, read 4,972,152 times
Reputation: 1256
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lingonberry View Post
I am in the lovely world of Retail Managment. This company is based in New England, the HR guy is in Atlanta, and the District Manager is in Orlando. This will be their first Miami store. When I got the call for the first interview, the first question the DM had for me is "Do you speak Spanish." The HR also asked me that in the second interview also.

I am waiting to hear back from them (its between me and one other candidate- I wish they had not told me that!)

On a side note, I have worked in the past at both Dolphin and Miami International Mall for many years in the past and I can honestly tell you- it was often problematic. Not because of my intermediate Spanish skills, but because the customers- (including tourists!) would always tell me I needed to speak Spanish because I live here. Its getting really old.

I did let the HR guy know that I was born and raised here, I know the market and community well, and I told him the area where they will be opening is generally a non-issue when it comes to language barriers. I told him all about the demographic and etc...I told him if they hired me I had amazing talented former associates/assistant managers I could bring to the team.

His response? (in his Georgia twang)

"Really? That's great for staffing. How many people do you have that may want to work for us?"

I tell him about 6 or 7.

"Are they bilingual?"

4 of them are.

"Well, if we hire you, bring the 4 to interview with us. The others unfortunately will not qualify because our Regional Manager requires that everybody speak Spanish."

If I get the job, I will be happy but concerned. And if I don't get it...and am told the person they selected is bilingual- I will be livid.

The reason I mentioned my last name being a hinderance is because in this market...it actually is. I have a friend- lets call her "Andrea Rodriguez" and she speaks not a word of Spanish. But she has never had problems getting work- she has never even been questioned about her being able to speak Spanish or not.

So...am I going to be forced to leave this city? Is it really fair? I realize life is not always fair...but what else am I supposed to do?

Feedback appreciated....
And this is why certain fields have a serious brain drain in the south FL area.

You are a brave soul working in retail management! I did an internship with a furniture company in the Dadeland area and boy, was that an eye opener! The manager actually told me and another employee not to take customers because of our broken Spanish, so basically I was giving potential commissions to my bilingual co-workers. I would then see them conducting their transactions in English. Guess they just didn't want to "deal" with a gringa.

It is not fair, but I think that your field is one that is probably going to require you to be bilingual - mainly because you will have to deal with customers to settle disputes, etc. Even if it means hiring someone with less experience but who is bilingual, which seems to be a priority for the company you are referring to.

Maybe a career change is what you really need. I worked for four years in a position in Miami that did not deal with the public and did not require me to be bilingual. Yet I dealt regularly with foreign scientists from countries such as Costa Rica, Venezuela, Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Ghana, and Nigeria - just about all of whom spoke at least enough English to communicate. I think when it comes to the bilingual requirement, it really depends on the field and the nature of the job.

But based on my experience at the furniture company, I wouldn't want to deal with the public in Miami even if I was fully bilingual, trilingual or omni-lingual! In any case, best of luck!
 
Old 02-14-2009, 02:46 PM
 
Location: Viña del Mar, Chile
14,369 posts, read 11,896,122 times
Reputation: 13104
Seems fair to me, think of how you feel when you go to publix, and want to find something.. but the person doesn't speak a word of english.. you guys don't like it. The people who want to speak spanish feel the same exact way, and the customer should be happy.

That's like me applying for a job as a doctor, and complaining because they are discriminating against me because I didn't go to med school. A requirement is a requirement.
 
Old 02-15-2009, 01:07 PM
 
Location: Miami, Florida
20 posts, read 82,014 times
Reputation: 24
Burgler...it's not a requirement. It's the absurd notion that people from out of state have of La Miami.

I agree with you about the doctor thing without a doubt. But when a company claims to be an equal opportunity employer...that's what I am questioning.

I don't go to Sedano's or Calle Ocho and expect to hear English.
But if I am in Dadeland, The Falls...or Publix for that matter I should hear it.

I am a customer too...what about making ME happy?
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