American Scene: Filipinos win settlement in English-only lawsuit

DELANO — Dozens of Filipino hospital workers in California will share a nearly $1 million settlement in a lawsuit claiming they were targeted by a rule requiring English only at work, federal officials said Monday.

The settlement involves nearly 70 nurses and medical staff members who accused Delano Regional Medical Center in Kern County of banning them from speaking Tagalog and other Filipino languages while letting other workers speak in their native languages, including Spanish, the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission announced.

The lawsuit, filed in 2010, accused the hospital of creating a hostile working environment for Filipinos by singling them out for reprimands and by encouraging other staff to report them.

The medical center defended its English-only policy as essential to patient care.

MASSACHUSETTS

Inmate seeking sex change ruled eligible for legal fees

BOSTON — A convicted murderer in Massachusetts who won the right to get a state-funded sex change is also eligible to have legal fees — expected to top $500,000 — paid as well, a federal judge ruled.

In a landmark decision, U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf earlier this month ordered the state Department of Correction to provide sex-reassignment surgery to Michelle Kosilek. Judge Wolf found that prison officials had violated Kosilek’s Eighth Amendment right to protection against cruel and unusual punishment, and that the surgery is the “only adequate treatment” for Kosilek’s gender-identity disorder.

WISCONSIN

Confusion reigns in wake of collective-bargaining ruling

MADISON — Wisconsin school and government employee unions on Monday were considering whether to seek new contract talks after a state court threw out a controversial law that restricts public workers’ collective bargaining rights.

At least one major union representing about 4,700 teachers in Madison said it will demand new contract negotiations, while others said they were weighing their options.

A Dane County judge ruled Friday that the law, passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2011, violates the school and local employees’ constitutional rights to free speech, free association and equal representation. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has said he will ask a court to put the ruling on hold while he prepares an appeal.

The law, championed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker to address budget problems, has been the focal point of a broader clash between conservatives and unions over worker rights.

OHIO

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