It is standard practice for colleges and universities in Colorado to translate important employment-related documents into employees’ native language when English is not their first language. One exception to this policy are the schools at the Auraria Campus in Denver, which says it insists its employees to speak English and refuses to provide important information in the language its workers will understand.
That English-only policy is the subject of a employment discrimination complaint filed by 12 Auraria Campus custodians with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission earlier in May. The workers, who are Hispanic, say that Auraria has denied them knowledge of the terms and conditions or their employment and put them in danger by not translating information into Spanish.
One of the custodians says she suffered a work injury because she could not read a warning sign that was written in English only. The worker said that the campus’ English-only policy has negatively impacted her in more ways than she can count on top of her injury.
The Auraria Campus houses the University of Colorado Denver, Metro State University of Denver and the Community College of Denver. The 12 people who filed the complaint are employees of the Auraria Higher Education Center, which provides maintainance service for the campus. In response to the complaint, a campus spokesman said that it was not obligated under Colorado law to provide Spanish translations. Auraria Higher Education Center expects its employees to be able to speak English.
It is not clear what those interactions are or how their lack of English skills has impacted the employees’ ability to do their jobs.
If the EEOC finds that the 12 workers were the victims of discrimination, it could refer its findings to the Justice Department for possible action.
Source: KCNC-TV, “Hispanic Custodians On Auraria Campus Claim Discrimination,” May 9, 2013