July 31st, 2014 | by SAMANTHA MATSUMOTO News | Posted In: State Government, Health

State Child Welfare Worker Says Her Boss Questioned Her Ability to Speak English

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A child welfare staffer at the Oregon Department of Human Services filed a complaint this month with the state labor board saying she was moved out of the job she's held for 14 years when a new boss complained her English wasn’t good enough.

In her complaint to the Bureau of Labor and Industries, Carmenza Gonzalez-Garcia says she told her manager in May she was being discriminated against because of her race—she was born in Colombia—but nothing changed.

Gonzalez-Garcia says no one had ever complained about her English-language ability until new supervisor, Heather Kilmer, came on board. (English is her second language, and she speaks with an accent.)

The complaint describes a hostile work environment "so severe that I had to go on medical leave."

Gonzalez-Garcia says Kilmer last year repeatedly told her, “You do not understand because you are not from this country.”


Gonzalez-Garcia says Kilmer changed her duties last December so she did not have to speak or write as much English. She says when she was overworked and asked for help, Kilmer would imply she could not do her job.

Gonzalez-Garcia said in her complaint that Kilmer had already fired two employees of color.

A Department of Human Services spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
 
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