Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Back of the Bus

Cesar Chavez
Our own government, by its actions, discriminates against Hispanics.

Speaking Spanish is less valuable than any other language, according to the California Division of Workers' Compensation in its latest release of SB 863's mandated interpreter fee schedule and regulations.

Karla Navarro, a certified medical interpreter, argued that paying less for Spanish interpretation will create a shortages.

“According to the U.S. Census, by 2050 the Hispanic population will be double what it is today,” she wrote in comment. “Many of these Spanish speaking people will take labor based jobs in which they will most likely be hurt and file a workers’ comp claim. This will lead to needing interpretation for medical appointments and with the proposed changes for regulations and fees, there is very little chance that the work force will be able to meet these needs.”

“We know of no other government fee schedule that singles out Spanish for sub-standard remuneration,” wrote Carl Brakensiek, executive director of the California Society of Industrial Medicine and Surgery.

What DWC is thinking, I'm sure, is that there are so many hispanic workers in the work comp system, and so many that interpret Spanish to English and visa-versa, that they are nearly a majority, and ergo, should be subject to the same expectations that English speaking workers are subject to - i.e. virtually no interpretation.

It's almost as if the government is saying that Spanish is now just a dialect of American English...

Or perhaps the thinking is that market forces will solve the pricing differential and only those truly dedicated to Spanish/English interpretation will stay in the game.

The message that is conveyed, unfortunately, is that discrimination is alive and well in 2015.

Ironically, California state government, including DWC, recognizes with a day of rest the efforts of the late, great Cesar Chavez, who fought long and hard for Hispanic immigrant rights.

As a lawyer, I had been through many depositions and court proceedings where the claimant was mono-lingual Spanish. Not only is there limitation in the native language, but nuances between regions and dialects can result in many different interpretations; subtle differences can result in substantial interpretation challenges.

What's spoken in the fields of the Central Valley is not Castilian Spanish. What's spoken in the court room, or the medical examining room, isn't the Queen's English.

I've argued before that the proposed regulations are overly complicated and invite work arounds and abuse. The resolution can be very simple...

In the meantime, if you speak Spanish, sit in the back of the bus.

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