Rant - Handbooks translated?

The new poll asked whether we translate and immediately below that was an article regarding an EEOC settlement of a sexual harassment case in Florida requiring the ER post notices in other languages because the EEs could not understand the company's sexual harassment policy written in English.

I personally find this requirement apalling. This is more evidence that our system is seriously flawed. It is ridiculous to make this a requirement.

I wonder how many different languages are the primary language of U.S. Citizens whose grasp of English is insufficient to understand an EE handbook? We have enough trouble understanding the American English version amonst English only speakers without having to anguish over subtle meaning differences for all the other languages.

Like English, Spanish has significantly different meanings for similar words. How many different Chinese dialogues are there. Tagalag, French, Russian - where does it stop?

This requirement by the EEOC should be reversed. We should make English the official business language just to protect the ERs pocket books.

Again, this is rediculous.


  • 21 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • You are absolutely right Marc, this whole area is an outrage. It is just the latest demonstration that government will do whatever it wants to do until the people force them to stop. As you said, it is difficult enough to interpret the english version, and you only need two lawyers to get two different views of what is required. Now, pay someone to translate, and what management person can review and say: 'that's not quite what we meant.' So you are sued and all anyone can say is that's not what it means in english, and some nincompoop judge will listen to another translator and say:'sorry, that's what it says in spanhinalbgerm - you pay!' These guys at the public trough have no concept of what it takes to run a business, and they don't, and have not, represented me for a long, long time!
  • Marc, you left Ebonics off your list of other languages.
  • And the other opinion is -----. Translating and all the other stuff we do is done because business runs better when more people are informed. And yes, sometimes government forces employers to do things they would be better of doing on their own. After all, who is better off - the person who knows what not to do and doesn't get injured because the employee read the safety rules in his/her own language or the employee that gets injured because he/she couldn't read the safety rules or didn't understand what the trainer said. Expecting people to learn English isn't going to help with the safety issues etc. etc. etc when the rules need to be known today. It isn't an issue of bending to the preferences of others. It is nothing more than we do what we have to do to conduct business today. And it sure is a big problem when there are multiple languages. Expecting everyone to speak English, though, so we didn't have to do all this stuff is an ideal, would be great, but isn't going to happen, so ----what you going to do?
  • Ideally, everyone in the United States should read, speak and write in English. However, this is not the reality. We have been translating for years..it is no big deal.

    However, if you feel this strongly, maybe your company should hire someone to teach people English.
  • And that is exactly the problem: no one is responsible for their own well being anymore - have someone else teach me, feed me, make sure I'm safe, etc. And translation can be a bid deal, it depends on the translator - and the problem is that those who know what it should say probably can't fly speck the translation, because if they could they woyuldn't need a translator. Sometimes, there is no direct translation w/o nuance - maybe not in Spanish (I don't speak it) but I was a Russian translator in the Air Force and I can tell you there are things in English you just can't say clearl in Russian, and vice versa. If nothing else, it's the principle that it is someone els'es problem, and let's just make the er bite the bullet. Does all of this buill cost every consumer? You betcha. So ultimately you and I pay for the english lesson for the guy who really ought to be motivated enough to get it on his own. Try thinkin like that in France!!
  • Yes, Shadowfax, we pay for it, but we would also pay for the accidents that occur because no one translated the safety rules or drivers manual into another language. I'm glad there is a Spanish version of the DMV manual. Not sure about Farsi, Tagalog etc. Maybe I should avoid those drivers, but then that would be profiling. There are always nuances that are not clearly translatable, so nothing is perfect, but there is a lot which doesn't have nuance and if the translation makes the ball bounce more predictably, why not? From my perspective this doesn't reflect on anyone's willingness to learn another language or some being forced to do for others, but one of individuals and business doing what they need to do, using the cards that are dealt - multiple languages.
  • We have an ee who was born in PR and English is his 2nd language. He's always coming to me to "clarify" things in his paycheck, insurance, etc. because he knows I speak Spanish and he wants to be sure he 'gets it'. Translating a handbook may not be necessary in his case.

    But in recent years I have helped my husband's relatives get jobs after coming to the US from Venezuela after newly receiving their "green cards". It's extremely difficult with the language barrier to begin with, but IMHO when something as important as safety (or harrassment or discrimination) is an issue, there should be documents in their own language to study.
  • I knew it and you confirmed it. I always thought that people who worked in Public Relations spoke a different language.
  • "It's extremely difficult with the language barrier to begin with, but IMHO when something as important as safety (or harrassment or discrimination) is an issue, there should be documents in their own language to study."

    Great idea, but why does the ER or the US taxpayer have to provide this? Perhaps the EE should be responsbible for it?

    When I want to learn something, I pay for it. If I wanted to learn Spanish or Russian or Pig-Latin, I don't go to my ER to pay, I don't file a lawsuit or a complaint to a watchdog agency, I make it happen with my own resources.

    Lots of scholarships around, and by the way, as a company, we have paid for EEs to take ESL classes. Not just to improve their fit with the company, but to improve their quality of life in our community. That is voluntary by a company, but in the case cited - it became mandotory.
  • Maybe a prerequisite for any ee to perform a job with inherent safety concerns is to read and speak English. You don't understand the language, you don't get the job. Would you hire an engineer who wasn't trained and conversant in engineering? Does one just go to an employer and expect to be hired as an engineer with no education and expect the employer to educate them in engineering? Or a teacher, or a CEO, or an accountant, or.... When hiring an employer should expect the potential employee to have certain skills sets. And they may include knowledge of our language.
  • Good point. I totally agree that one wouldn't hire someone for a specialized task without being able to see documentation that he/she can perform it skillfully. However, being sure the ee is able to understand the basic safety policy as written in the handbook is a bit different than having a degree in engineering. Should the ee learn English? Of course, and as quick as possible on their own time. But that doesn't solve the immediate problem.
  • Another friend, with a legal background had an excellent point to make.

    How did the EE find out about the job? Was it advertised in the local English newspaper or on an English website? Does the company require a job application be filled out? If so, is it in English. If an interveiw was conducted, was it in English?

    If any of that happened, then how could the a company be at fault assuming an EE would be able to understand basic policies?

    If the EE had someone come in and do all of that for him/her and translate during an interview, then maybe one could assume the company knew what it was getting.

    Otherwise, in effect, the EE would have represented to the company that he/she understood the language.
  • Be glad you all aren't part of the Federal government system... Limited English Proficiency regs are trickling down to local governments, and it's affecting more than our employees (see [url]http://www.lep.gov/[/url] ). Dubya's Executive Order (13116) requires us (as Federal $$ recipients) to translate all of our client documents, etc. into the prevalent primary language. I'd LOVE to be in a position where all I had to pay for is the single translation of a little 40 page handbook.

    We've got a troublesome client we can't get rid of because he doesn't speak or read English - if we terminate him from the program, three other agencies will sue that we discriminated against him by not giving him equal access to housing, based on the fact we haven't translated our documents into HIS version of HisSpanglish, though we have provided him an Hispanic (Latin American) version.

    Where does it end?! I speak Midwestern; if I fire someone with a Minnesotan accent, can they sue me for national origin discrimination?
  • I'm prepared to take a beating from everyone, but here goes. We would never hire anyone who did not speak and read English proficiently. The reason is we are an electric distribution company, and safety is our number one concern. We cannot have a lineman working on high voltage overhead lines trying to communicate with a groundsman or helper who may or may not understand him or be able to read the lock out-tag out signs warning that a lineman is working on this line, so do not energize it. Sorry, but that's the way it is. Applicants can drag us to court if they want. So far, it hasn't been an issue. About the understanding of employee handbook, my orientation with new employees includes a session with the handbook. Each policy is explained, and they are instructed to ask either their supervisor or me if they need clarification.

    Now you can fling those bricks.

  • No bricks from me. You have job related reasons for what you require. No problem.
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 06-13-05 AT 03:40AM (CST)[/font][br][br]I agree one hundred percent with your position which is the same as ours. Safety is our (ahem) numero uno concern. We do not have the time, nor frankly the money to gamble, to hope a non-English savvy employee will adjust to our safety policies, practices, endless training and our cautionary signage all over the facility. 880 volts is a very unforgiving stimulus. Getting a translator to tell a Spanish widow that her deceased husband didn't understand the LOTO rules is not something I am going to do. Learn the language or get a job where communication is not important.

    BTW Gillian, LOTO is lock-out tag-out.
  • There is nothing worse than doing new employee orientation with someone who doesn't understand nor speak English. You get no feedback from them and they look at you like you have two heads. We offer English classes to employees who need help. We even offer these classes during working hours but no one wants to take them.
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 06-12-05 AT 09:30AM (CST)[/font][br][br]I've suspected for some time that PoRk1 and GiLlIaN3 are the same person. Now I've moved from suspicion to conclusion and am announcing my discovery. The eerily similar, yet cleverly disguised brands of nonsense are just too identically over the top to be coincidental.

    And this anti-Mexican/pro-Mexican version of Christ/Anti-Christ ain't foolin' me no more. I'll admit to being fooled for three years by this paradox of a stumbling-Columbo vs shrieking-liberal Houdini act, but, no more. I have researched nearly half a million posts over the past 3.5 years and it's a fact that neither of these imaginary personnas has ever addressed or responded to the other or mentioned the other.

    It's time for you to come out of the closet and become Gork or Pillian and stop this fraud upon the fine, friendly folks of the Forum. x:-)
  • What a coincidence. I have also just completed research for my study. I have studied the ultra right rantings of certain people and the pages in the newspaper in north San Diego County which are populated by the same. The words are all the same - those damn liberals, those damn illegals taking us to the cleaners, why can't they speak English, those damn Democrats, the wonderful Republicans, we're going to hell in a handbasket due to the liberals etc. etc. ad nauseum. My conclusion - in the not too distant future DonD or Livinstone will be propped up in his chair, drinking a beer, gazing at the bottle tree while he writes to the editor complaining about how times are a-changing for the worst and the readers of the newspaper, as now, laugh and laugh and laugh.
  • I just saw a report over the weekend that said the teachers in, I believe, Colorado, were spending so much time with the non or poorly versed english speakers in their classes, that the other kids were being short changed.
  • Squeaky wheel syndrome...
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