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Civil Service Panel to Hear Language Case

October 26, 1986

The Los Angeles County Civil Service Commission will conduct a hearing to determine if three Southeast Judicial District judges violated their employees' rights in 1984 by ordering them to only speak English on the job.

The commission granted the hearing last week at the request of Local 660 of the Service Employees International Union. In a longstanding dispute, the union has argued that Huntington Park Municipal Court Judges John W. Bunnett, Porter De Dubovay and Russell F. Schooling violated Civil Service regulations when they issued the English-only order in response to an employee's complaint that co-workers were gossiping about her in Spanish.

One of the court employees charged in a related federal suit that the judges' order was being used to discriminate against Latinos.

Larry J. Roberts, a Santa Ana lawyer for the judges, said he expects the Civil Service Commission to appoint a hearing officer, who will take testimony in the case sometime over the next month or two. Roberts said a Superior Court judge has already decided that the commission has authority to consider whether the English-only order conflicts with Civil Service regulations, but lacks any power to invalidate the order.

The Huntington Park judges are prohibited from enforcing their order until the federal suit is decided, which probably will not be before next year.

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