Florida nurses say they are forbidden to speak Spanish at work

HAINES CITY, Fla. (BAY NEWS 9/CNN) - Seven employees at a clinic for the Florida Department of Health say management has harassed them for more than a year for speaking Spanish at work.

Clinic workers say they've been harassed for more than a year because they speak Spanish at work. (Source: Bay News 9 via CNN)

"It feels like you're a criminal, like you're doing something that is wrong," said Mairyl Miranda, one of seven nurses and clerks at the clinic who allege the harassment.

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

The women are all Puerto Rican and say they were hired because they are bilingual to serve the large Hispanic population of Haines City.

They say management forbids them from speaking 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," Miranda said.

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

"We have monthly meetings and they've said it there...very rudely also," said Maria Rivera, a clerk. "We had three different people, coworkers, bosses to tell us that."

The group filed a complaint with the Polk County Health Department and contacted Tallahassee, but they say no action has been taken.

"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 Laura River, a nurse.

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