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Bilingualism Could Be Proxy For Discrimination

Stephanie Davis was a Policy Services Specialist for Infinity Insurance. The company implemented a requirement that its employees and new hires be able to speak both English and Spanish. Ms. Davis, who was African-American, did not speak Spanish. Seventeen employees were fired; twelve of the seventeen employees were black. Five white employees, who were less qualified and less senior, remained employed.

Ms. Davis had alleged that Infinity's bilingualism requirement had a disparate impact on employees with national origins or ethnicities that did not traditionally speak Spanish. It was also alleged that the employer had intended for that to be the impact of its policies. The federal district court found that theory could support a Title VII discrimination claim.

However, based on the pleadings submitted to the court, Ms. Davis' complaint was dismissed. The allegations were too conclusory and lacking in factual support. She had failed to refer to any direct evidence and did not make it clear whether she was bringing an individual disparate treatment claim or a pattern or practice class claim. Ms. Davis' retaliation claim survived and she could seek leave to amend her complaint to support a discrimination claim.