[lg policy] Gavel to Gavel: The value of translation

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Fri Jul 13 14:14:47 EDT 2018

 Gavel to Gavel: The value of translation

By: Stephanie Duran <http://journalrecord.com/author/stephanieduran/> Guest
Columnist July 11, 2018 0
[image: Stephanie Duran]

Stephanie Duran

If your company has limited English proficient individuals in its workforce
and you aren’t offering training programs in non-English languages, your
company may be exposed to a discrimination claim. Because language is an
integral characteristic of someone’s nationality, discrimination based on
language constitutes national origin discrimination.

LEP discrimination can take many forms. For example, the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against the national retail grocery
chain Albertsons alleging it subjected certain employees to a hostile work
environment and harassment due to implementation of an English-only policy,
which prohibited Spanish-speaking employees from speaking Spanish around
non-Spanish-speaking employees and customers.

What do you need to do for your employees?

*Access to information:* Most employers know that having clear policies in
place, and implementing them consistently, can be the best defense to
employment-related harassment or discrimination claims. Though federal law
does not require employers to provide LEP employees with direct
translations of employment policies, it may be in an employer’s best
interest to do so. In at least one case, failure to both provide translated
policies and training in Spanish factored into a court’s determination that
an employer had not exercised reasonable care.

*Access to relief:* An employer must also provide a way for LEP employees
to exercise their rights under the policy – in their spoken language.
Hiring bilingual managers isn’t a requirement but making translation
services available is essential. If your employees cannot complain in the
language that they speak, then your policy cannot be effective.

*A note about English-only policies:* If your company needs an English-only
policy, drafting and implementation should be handled with great care.
While the EEOC recognizes that an employer must be able to communicate with
its employees, it will presume that an EOP that applies at all times and in
all places in the workplace violates Title VII. However, an English-only
policy may be compliant if it only applies at certain times and is
justified by a business necessity. For example, requiring employees to use
English in emergency situations.

*Treatment during the hiring process:* It is crucial for an employer not to
treat any applicant differently based on his or her birth, country of
origin, ancestry, native language, or accent. Having on-boarding processes
and policies that apply uniformly to all new or potential hires is

*Stephanie Duran is a labor and employment attorney with GableGotwals
<http://www.gablelaw.com/>, a full-service law firm of more than 90


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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