12 custodians from the Auraria Campus filed an EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] complaint against the Auraria Higher Education Center, which is the organization that maintains the campus for Metro State University of Denver, the Community College of Denver and the University of Colorado Denver.
The employees’ beef? That signs on the campus are in English only. This circumstance has created a particular hardship for custodian Bertha Ribota, who claims she was injured at work because she couldn’t read a warning sign that was in English. Ribota told CBS, “Too many things have happened to me there that I don’t even know how to explain it.” She then hinted at the obvious fix: “If I could speak English I wouldn’t have the problems that exist.”
Tim Markham, the attorney representing the custodians in their complaint, said:
What is sort of a neutral business practice, that they speak English on campus and it’s an English-only campus has a discriminatory impact on this group of workers.
But Campus officials disagree. They note that there is no state law requiring translations. They believe, moreover, that it is incumbent on employees of the school to understand basic English.
Campus spokesman Blaine Nickeson told CBS:
It’s not our goal to provide every document translated or every conversation translated. Our employees are expected to interact with members of the public and that interaction we expect them to be able to understand English.
The EEOC could take several weeks to review the case. If they find actual damages the Department of Justice could get involved.
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