Legal Translating Services and
Foreign Languages in the Workplace

Legal Document Translations to
Comply with the EEOC Guidelines

Legal Translation Services for the EEOC Compliance

We’ve blogged about legal translation services and the scope of the U.S. employment discrimination laws in international settings. When it comes to the use of a foreign language in the workplace, there is often a conflict between the employee’s desire to communicate in their native language and the employer’s desire to operate in a single language environment. When such clashes cannot get resolves, one turns to the EEOC. The EEOC‘s approach is to essentially strike a compromise between an employer’s interests in efficient business operations while still granting cultural rights to employees in limited circumstances. So where’s the line?

According to the EEOC, the issue comes down to the business necessity of a given rule or regulation. In summary, the EEOC guidelines recognize two classes of English-only rules:

1. They condemn rules that require employees to speak English at all times. These are viewed as “a burdensome term and condition of employment”. Such rules create “an atmosphere of inferiority, isolation and intimidation based on national origin which could result in a discriminatory working environment”.

2. Restrictions that require English only at certain times are given more leeway and are generally held acceptable so long as the employer can demonstrate a business necessity for having them.

In practice, the difference between the two can be viewed as a public/private divide. For example, requiring employees to use English within operational areas of the workplace, such as the assembly line or cash register, is viewed as a business necessity. On the other hand, prohibiting the use of foreign languages in places like the break room or private phone conversations will likely not be seen as a necessary part of doing business.

Contact us about on-site legal interpreting services in the workplace to retain competent Greek, Korean, Cantonese, and other language interpreters for internal investigations, depositions and arbitrations.

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