Professional Interpreting and Translation Services, National Origin Discrimination and Foreign Language Speakers

Multilingual court interpreting services, courtroom translation and legal translation services are routinely required during administrative hearings and cross-cultural depositions involving non-English-speaking or limited English-speaking plaintiffs, alleging discrimination on the basis of national origin.  According to Section 13 of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Compliance Manual, it is illegal for a company or individual who falls under the EEOC’s jurisdiction to discriminate against another based on one’s national origin. According to the directive, national origin discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favorably because that individual (or his ancestors) is from a certain place or belongs to a certain group.


Further, discrimination is defined as including action based on one’s physical, linguistic and/or cultural characteristics closely associate with a national origin group. Although some employers have legitimate reasons for basing an employment decision on foreign language, since linguistic characteristics are closely associated with national origin an employer must be careful that their reasoning justifies any burden placed on the individual.

For example, according to the EEOC, having an English fluency requirement is permissible only if required for the effective performance of the position for which it is imposed. Since the degree of fluency lawfully required can vary from one position to the next, employers should generally avoid a uniform fluency requirement. As a best practice standard, before adopting a fluency or English only rule, the employer should consider all alternatives, including the use of an on-site foreign language interpreting and translation service. 

To read “Translations for Human Resources and Risk Management Departments, and Using Foreign Language Translations to Create Enforceable Employee Handbooks” click here.

To retain a litigation-savvy deposition interpreter, fluent in your witness’s exotic foreign language, or in a more common foreign language spoken by a foreign-born deponent, contact our deposition translation office today.

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