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Home Sections MiscellaNEWS More Join In Suing U.S. Hospital Against Its English-Only Policy
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Sunday, 26 December 2010 11:45

 

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

Journal Group Link International)

 

C HICAGO (jGLi) – An ethnic legal group joined the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in suing the Delano Regional Medical Center in Central Valley in California for alleged discrimination and harassment of 63 Filipinos who were prevented from speaking Tagalog and other Filipino languages as part of its “broad-reaching English-only policy.”

 

The Asian-Pacific American Legal Center based in Los Angeles, California, is represented by Julie A. Su, Justin Ma and Carmina Ocampo. It has filed a “complaint in intervention for damages and injunctive relief” and demanded a jury trial against the DRMC, Central California Foundation and Delano Health Associates, Inc.

 

The APALC is member of Asian-American Center for Advancing Justice, a national civil-rights and social-justice conference group based in Washington, D.C., that aims to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders in one place to address a broad range of issues facing the Asian-American and Pacific-Islander community.

 

The hearing of the civil rights suit is set on Jan. 18 before Judge Jennifer L. Thurston of the Eastern District Court of California in Bakersfield.

 

The APALC said a group of former and current Filipino-American hospital employees was discriminated against by the DRMC “because of their national origin and subjected the Filipino-American workers to severe and pervasive workplace harassment.”

 

They were prohibited from speaking Tagalog and other Filipino languages while other ethnic groups employed in the hospital were not held to a similar standard.

 

The APALC’s complaint said only Filipino American employees were required to attend mandatory meetings with management. At the meetings, the Filipinos were told they were prohibited from speaking Filipino languages in the workplace.

 

They were reprimanded and threatened to be monitored with the use of audio surveillance that could result in discipline and suspension.

 

The DRMC also encouraged other employees to report Filipinos American employees to their supervisors, “which created tension and hostility among employees.”

 

T he Filipinos were also “chastised and threatened by supervisors and other co-workers.” They were constantly reminded to speak English.

 

“DRMC’s actions made us feel humiliated, isolated, and unvalued as employees. Many of us, including myself, had worked hard for DRMC for ten or twenty years. Despite our loyalty and years of service, we were shocked that DRMC singled out Filipino American workers and blatantly discriminated against us,” according to complainant, Wilma Lamug, a licensed vocational nurse at DRMC for more than ten years.

 

Julie A. Su, Litigation Director of APALC, said, “DRMC enforced an overly restrictive and draconian English-only policy only against Filipino American employees that cannot be justified by a business necessity. As a result, DRMC created a workplace environment that was hostile towards its Filipino-American employees and unfortunately increased tensions between Filipino and non-Filipino employees.”

 

The APALC is filing intervening suit to the lawsuit filed on Aug. 18, 2010 by the U.S. EEOC, which charged the DRMC with violating federal law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) for discriminating against Filipino employees based on national origin. The independent federal agency also accused DRMC with violating California state law’s California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.

 

The lawsuit seeks an injunction to prevent the hospital from committing “future discrimination, as well as financial compensation from defendants for the employees.”

 

“An employer like DRMC with a diverse clientele should view an employees’ ability to speak another language as an asset, not a disadvantage. It is reprehensible that our clients were singled out for enforcement of the English-only policy and harassed. Employers need to know that this type of discrimination and harassment on the basis of national origin is illegal,” according to Carmina Ocampo, a staff attorney at APALC. “We hope this case encourages other immigrant workers to do as they workers did, and stand up publicly and demand their rights.”

 

A ttorney Ocampo told this reporter that there were 34 employees, who originally filed complaints with the EEOC. A “number of others have come forward” since then and the complainants have risen to 63, mostly as the health workers as do others who left DRMC.

 

The complainants are Douglas Abdon, David Agbayani, Rebecca Aguinaldo, Pacita Agustin, Manuela Aninion, Melchor Apostol, Ednalyn Arciaga, Angelita Baligad, Nena Ballesteros, Ferdinand Baraceros, Elizabeth Batchar, Charito Bilog, Maria Busto, Belen Cabcab, Michelle Cabcab, Fely Cacal, Normi Cacal, Erlinda Camotuya, Herminia Carino, Esther Casabar, Nora Casimiro, Elnora Cayme, Gina Correa, Armeliza de la Cruz, Ester de los Santos, Hilda Ducusin, Anafe Escorpiso, Aida Estrella, Florentina Failano, Eduardo Frial, Consolacion Galafate, Jovena Gallegos, Luz Gallegos; Tomasa Gumallaoi, Melinda Intoc, Calixto Lamug, Wima Lamug, Anielyn Manalastas, Romeo Manalastas, Maribelle Manankil, Sol Manaois, Elizabeth Matias, Joselito Munoz, Cristina Nelmida, Nelson Nisperos, Venus Pagsuberon, Priscilla Penalosa, Evangeline Picato, Jose Pira, Federico Quiniones,  Nannette Quino, Teresita Rafanan, Sixto Ramos, Melanie Refuerzo, Arsenia Ringor, Marilou Riola, Patricia Serafica, Maria Teresa Solano, Necita Tabajonda, Myrna Torres, Vilma Tutop, Elena Villamor and Romeo Villamor.

 

The Filipino-American employees are represented by lawyers from the Los Angeles, California-based EEOC led by regional Attorney Anna Y. Park and Attorneys Michael J. Farrell and Amrita Mallik. The DRMC is represented by lawyers Robert D. Harding and John R. Szewczyk of the Clifford & Brown law office in Bakersfield. # # #

 

Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at:  (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

 



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Last Updated on Sunday, 26 December 2010 11:51
 

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