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Officer Sues NYPD Over English-Only Language Policy

May 10, 2016  | 

Officer Jessenia Guzman (Photo: NYPD)
Officer Jessenia Guzman (Photo: NYPD)

A Hispanic officer is suing the NYPD over its English-only policy — saying she was reprimanded for answering a colleague in Spanish.

Jessenia Guzman, a Bronx resident whose family is from the Dominican Republic, claims in a new Manhattan lawsuit that the policy violates her civil and constitutional rights.

Guzman, 43, who has a master’s in social work from Columbia University, is a 16-year NYPD veteran, the New York Post reports.

In 2013, Guzman says, a supervisor wrote her up after “a quick interaction with a co-worker in Spanish,” according to the suit.

In a related federal court suit that was tossed in part because of jurisdictional issues, Guzman’s supervisor disputed her version of the incident.

Lt. Richard Khalaf said in a deposition that the Spanish conversation was “more egregious” than a simple greeting. Khalaf says Guzman was “continually” speaking in Spanish to another female officer while he was standing in front of her.

An NYPD spokesman explained that “with over 50 different languages spoken by employees of the Department, our Office of Equal Employment Opportunity has established guidelines for members to speak English when they are conducting business for the department, unless speaking a foreign language is necessary to perform his or her duties.”


Comments (11)

Displaying 1 - 11 of 11

JM @ 5/10/2016 4:11 PM

Come on officer, you know what the policy is, just follow it. Policies apply to every employee of the department, you're not exempt...

Mike @ 5/10/2016 4:42 PM

For transparency, it seems like a sound policy

Joe Smith @ 5/10/2016 4:55 PM

The fact that she took this to such an extreme is a sign of an extremely obstinate officer and it won't be the last you here from her regarding any number of issues she thinks she knows best about. Additionaly, her inability to see her partners perspective in these types of situations is a strong indication her loyalty as a partner could be in doubt, and therefore may not be able to be trusted.

Tschako @ 5/10/2016 5:14 PM

"Guzman, 43, who has a master’s in social work from Columbia University, is a 16-year NYPD veteran" Probably got that MSW by stealing time from the department.

kevcopAz @ 5/10/2016 5:35 PM

I agree, the rules sound like they are fair and she understood them. We can't have officers talking in foreign languages behind the backs or infront of others when it is not nessasary while on duty period. Who knows what would be or could be said that dements or handicaps a supervisors ability to enforce rules and regulations if this is allowed. Personally this "cop" must be one poor social worker of she has a Masters degree and is still a street cop. Shows a propensity to be a non-cop lib inn the first place. This is what NYPD wants? Liberal Social workers as street cops? I would bet that this officer has tried every way possible to get off the streets with non cop assignments during her "career" and agree that she probably got the degree paid for by the NYPD. What a joke she is.

MYTHNTR @ 5/10/2016 6:31 PM

I can't believe this is happening. Speak English!!! If you are getting assaulted while on the beat do you tell dispatch in Spanish that you need help? NO! Remember it is rude to speak in another language while in front of English speaking people. Someone should fire her for being so unprofessional.

Bluto1900 @ 5/10/2016 6:52 PM

I am sure there are plenty of police departments in the Dominican Republic that would welcome a Spanish speaking officer with a Master's Degree if speaking Spanish is really that important to her.

Brian @ 5/11/2016 5:03 AM

This nation is in a heap of trouble.

2Cents @ 5/11/2016 7:01 AM

I agree with all of these statements. I imagine a situation where the officer didn't like what her supervisor was saying and she knew he didn't speak Spanish. So she made her snide comments. That to me is insubordination. If the supervisor said something derogatory about her gender or race there assuredly and deservedly would have been a different type of complaint. We've all worked with officers who are just plain disgruntled and looking for an easy way out. If what I am reading is accurate, it is plain and simple. She knew better, was apparently smart enough to realize what the rules are (probably been reminded before) and probably knows the policies backward and forward, the most disgruntled usually do so they can find a loophole.

Bob retired LEO @ 5/11/2016 10:39 AM

You would think with a Masters she would recognize departmental policy and speak English. I worked with a unit that was heavily Hispanic. When they didn't want me to know what they were speaking of, they would speak Spanish. Then their were no regulations forbidding it. So, I went to school and learned the language and now their boss understood and it stopped.

bo upton @ 6/6/2016 6:48 AM

After 16 years on the job she knows the policies, and if she don’t know them she is an idiot and does not need to be a police officer to begin with. She probable got hired because of affirmative action and not her merit. Not only is that it rude to speak in a language that everyone in the room or area does not understand.

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