Legal Translation & Interpreting Services for Multilingual Workforce

Legal Translation Services to Comply with EEOC

Business document translation services along with technical translation services play an important role in complying with the EEOC requirements in the workplace.  As the U.S workforce becomes increasingly diverse, employers are being required to accommodate their foreign language speaking employees in order to avoid civil rights violations. Issues often arise when foreign language speaking employees, who are unable to understand English, are not provided with translations in their native language in the workplace.

In May of 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued a determination in which they found that a college campus discriminated against its Spanish-speaking janitors when it failed to translate employment-related policies and disciplinary-related documents into Spanish. Specifically, the EEOC found that AHEC violated the employees’ rights under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act when it forced its employees to speak, sign documents, and receive safety instructions only in English.

The decision came after a three year investigation into a complaint filed by twelve Spanish-speaking custodians at the AHEC campus in Denver in which they alleged they were forced to sign forms waiving their rights to workers’ compensation benefits and medical care following workplace injuries. In defending against the complaint, Auraria center officials argued that there was no state law in Colorado requiring complete document translations.

EEOC Requires Translation in the Workplace for Non-English Speaking Employees

According to the EEOC’s determination letter, the twelve workers and other similarly situated employees were discriminated against because of their national origin. In addition, the EEOC found that one employee was denied a promotion and another was retaliated against for speaking out against the discrimination. Specifically, the EEOC determination letter states: “I have considered all the evidence obtained during the investigation and find there is reasonable cause to believe that Charging Party and other similarly situated individuals were subjected to discriminatory terms and conditions of employment in violation of Title VII.”

AHEC employees and union officials are also asking Auraria to provide English to Spanish document translations with instructions on certain cleaning chemicals because some of the employees were injured when they failed to wear protective equipment. One custodian told a local news outlet that she was injured at work because she could not read a warning sign that was in English.

Reacting to the win, the custodians’ attorney and director of Colorado Wins, the union for the custodians, stated that “[i]t actually just reinforces what we’ve known all along the law to be. It’s just an injustice to ask people to sign documents that deal with their schedule or that deal with a potential corrective action in their work and force them to sign things that they are telling you they can’t actually understand.” He also explained that “[t]he decision to go to the EEOC was not made lightly and was done so only after it became apparent that AHEC executives didn’t care about the discrimination these workers faced on a daily basis from their managers. These workers have tried in vain for years to get AHEC management to take their issues seriously and have been ignored at every turn. The determination by the EEOC that there has been ongoing discrimination and that AHEC is in violation of federal law is a vindication of these workers and their years long struggle.”

A spokeswoman for Auraria denied the discrimination allegations, “we do not have an English-only policy as you suggest; translations are allowed in the workplace. As a matter of practice, the Auraria Higher Education Center does not discriminate against its employees.”

Following this decision, the union will enter a mediation proceeding with the Auraria Higher Education Center. Should mediation prove to be unsuccessful, the custodians say they are prepared to file a lawsuit in federal court.

For assistance with all types of employment and workplace related document translations for your multilingual workforce, contact All Language Alliance, Inc.  Professional interpreting services in-person and remotely, via telephone and video conference, are available in more than 100 foreign languages, including Russian, Spanish, Arabic, Polish, Korean, Bosnian, Cantonese, Khmer, Kunama, Amharic, Burmese, Armenian, Hmong, Somali, Japanese, Vietnamese, Nepali, and many other uncommon and common foreign languages.

This legal language translation blog article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. You should always consult an attorney regarding your specific legal needs.

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