Filipino Hospital Workers to Receive Nearly $1M in National Origin and Language Discrimination Lawsuit Settlement
October 9, 2012
In recent California employment news, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has settled a discrimination lawsuit accusing a California medical center of targeting Filipino hospital workers and engaging in national origin and language discrimination in the workplace.
According to the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC), this is the largest language discrimination settlement in this country's healthcare industry history--with 70 Filipino hospital workers receiving nearly one million dollars from Delano Regional Medical Center (DRMC), to settle the language and national origin discrimination lawsuit.
As Vincent Howard reported in a previous Riverside employment lawyers blog, the EEOC and the APALC jointly filed a lawsuit in 2010, claiming that the Filipino hospital employees were targeted with harassment and discipline over the course of four years for speaking Filipino languages in the hospital. The employees were allegedly banned from speaking the languages in the hallways, during their breaks, or in the cafeteria, and were humiliated, harassed and reprimanded when caught speaking in Filipino languages or even speaking English with a Filipino accent. The Filipino workers claim that they were being specifically targeted, as they were the only ethnic group at the hospital that was forced to stop speaking their language.
The discrimination lawsuit claimed that the harassment and discrimination started after the CEO and medical center management team called all of the Filipino-American workers into a meeting in 2006, and informed the Filipino workers that if they did not comply with the medical center's English-only speaking policy, they would be subjected to serious consequences, such as suspension or termination, and even being monitored by surveillance cameras.
The Filipino workers claimed that after this meeting, the other hospital staff, supervisors, and volunteers were then encouraged to act as enforcers in the hospital by reprimanding, berating, and threatening the Filipino employees if they spoke the Filipino language--creating a hostile work environment. According to the Filipino hospital workers, the other hospital staff made fun of their accents by ordering them to speak English, even if they were already speaking English. Staff members who regularly spoke other languages like Spanish, were reportedly neither harassed or disciplined for failing to speak English.
The Filipino employees reportedly signed and filed a petition to report the harassment and discrimination to the highest level of management at the hospital, but the management allegedly failed to either pursue any form of investigation or to stop the mistreatment.
According to the EEOC, the medical center will pay $975,000 to the hospital workers, and will develop protocols to handle discrimination and harassment in the future, and create a hospital language policy that complies with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, and Garden Grove, California, contact Vincent Howard and our Anaheim labor and employment legal team today.
Filipino Nurses Lawsuit: Tagalog Speakers Win Discrimination Suit, $1 Million Award, The Huffington Post, September 17, 2012
Filipino nurses win language discrimination settlement, LA Times, September 18, 2012
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