Filipino Nurses Win Language Discrimination Settlement

Anh Do, Los Angeles Times, September 18, 2012

A group of Filipino nurses who claimed they were mocked for their accents and ordered to speak “English only” won a nearly $1-million settlement against a Central California hospital where bosses and co-workers were allegedly urged to eavesdrop on the immigrant workers.

The $975,000 settlement, announced Monday by lawyers from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, is believed to be the largest language discrimination settlement in the U.S. healthcare industry, according to the Asian Pacific American Legal Center.

Officials at Delano Regional Medical Center insisted they did nothing wrong and settled the lawsuit only because it made financial sense. Under the terms of the settlement, however, the hospital must conduct anti-discrimination training and hire a monitor to track workplace conduct.

The case, filed in 2010, involved 69 immigrants who said they suffered “constant harassment and humiliation when they opened their mouths, or talked with family members on the phone,” said Anna Park, a Los Angeles-based attorney for the commission. She said nurses were banned from speaking Tagalog and other dialects in break rooms, hallways and the cafeteria.

“They were always telling us, ‘Ssshhh. English only. English only. I felt embarrassed, ashamed,” said Elnora Cayme, who worked at the hospital for more than 27 years.

{snip}

During a 2006 mandatory meeting for Filipino staffers, nurses were told they were forbidden from using their native language at “any time in the hospital,” said Wilma Lamug, a former 10-year employee.

She said the hospital’s former chief executive vowed that “he would install surveillance cameras in nursing stations. Whoever is caught, they were threatened with suspension or termination,” Lamug said. “Sometimes, we were speaking English, but due to our accent and diction, they thought we were speaking something else.”

{snip}

“We feel we restored our dignity—but there’s no closure,” said Hilda Ducusin, a staff nurse for 10 years. “The scar is always there.”

Topics: ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • jj astor

    Only in Amerika…

  • Puggg

    Tagalog is the the main indigenous language of the Philippines, while Spanish and English are widespread thanks to historical occupation by the Spaniards and Americans.  I think this lawsuit is a “lottery.”

  • IstvanIN

    We should have a national language.  We also should not have foreign born nurses, or doctors, or dentists, or, well, you get the point.

    • If we only could adopt the Rudder’s prohibitions, you’d have your wish. (The Rudder is the compliation of Christian laws adopted by the Orthodox East.)

  • They may have a point about their accent. Filipinos tend to have a very strong accent when they speak English and you have to listen very closely or else you would not understand what they are saying. I had a friend who went to a Catholic school staffed by Filipino nuns and he would pronounce the word chapel as shapel because that is how the nun pronounced it in school and his mother had one heck of a time telling him that is not how the word is pronounced.

    • pc must go

      All accents are annoying. Even the French… when French women speak English, their accent is super-fing annoying. Ditto for the chinese. I met with a Chinese woman today who acted all offended for me asking her if she “got” what  I meant, what I said, if she understood me. She was shocked I thought her English skills weren’t the best when she had a super, super heavy Chinese accent – you know, an “I can barely speak English” type accent.

      • IstvanIN

         I find a Scottish accent almost unintelligible.  This is one time when it isn’t about race, it is about the ability to communicate in a common language.

        • Persephone Gray

          It’s about exposure. I grew up in New Zealand. When I was a kid, we had three TV channels; they showed programs from New Zealand, Australia, the US, Canada and the UK. After being raised with years of shows such as “Last of the Summer Wine”, thick northern accents (Yorkshire, Scotland) are almost as easily intelligible to me as the various American, standard British or Kiwi accents. Okay, Begby in “Trainspotting” is still pretty tough, but that’s an extreme case!

          On the other hand, it took a few years of living in the US before my ears were attuned enough to detect the subtle difference between a standard American and Canadian accent. Now, it’s immediately obvious, but before living here I never heard the difference.

    • This_Name_Doesnt_Exist

      I’ve worked with Chinese for ten years and I’ve never once mistaken their atrocious accented English for Mandarin or Cantonese.  “Lestawant” and “wiaduct” and “I’m welly welly tiled today” and “Hasserbak bad quattewbak” don’t sound like Mandarin or Cantonese. 

      And even if that were the case, I can’t imagine that someone who uses the word “diction” has speech so poorly accented that it’s confused as Tagalog.

  • Anonymous

    Well English is a racist language. Liberals should stop speaking it.

  • Higher medical costs brought to you courtesy of trial lawyers, frivolous law suits, immigrants, diversity and political correctness. Imagine how much more lucrative it will be when healthcare is funded by taxpayers.

  • I am all for English only in all gov’t functions and for allowing a private business operate in whatever language they want/demand.

    IOW, if a Chinese restaurant want to hire only waitress that speak Chinese and English fluently, that’s fine by me. Same w/a German restaurant w/Deutsch or an African-American restaurant w/Ebonics. I get to vote my feet where I want to spend my money.

    If a German pub wants to hire only blond haired and blue eyed white women for staff, again, go for it. If that’s what they think will make them the most money, or whatever their business goal is, that’s their choice. Dittos w/a athletic shoe store that wants to hire only blacks.

    “Freedom!” as Mel immortalized at the end of Braveheart.

  • Diamond_Lil

    Peasants have no concept of  basic manners.

  • Defiant White

    QUOTE:   ““Sometimes, we were speaking English, but due to our accent and diction, they thought we were speaking something else.”

    LOL   Hilarious!   I’ve always though Tagalog sounded like monkey-jabber.

    QUOTE:  “We feel we restored our dignity—but there’s no closure,” said Hilda Ducusin, a staff nurse for 10 years. “The scar is always there.”

    So let’s see . . . $975,000 minus one-third in legal fees and other costs (assuming lawyers worked for free here) means they end up splitting $653,250 in 69 portions . . .

    Her “dignity” is worth 9,467 dollars and 39 cents.

    Sounds about right.

    Bottom line (excuse the pun) . . .  I guess this means they’re allowed to keep jabbering away.

  • AmericanTaxPayerNoMore

    Twenty-seven years one of those immigrants had been here yet still cannot speak English.  Immigrants are not here to be American, there here to live off of Americans.

    • Those nurses could speak English and they could read and write it as well because they have to pass the same license testing that American nurses do. The problem is that they have a heavy accent when they speak English and that you have to listen very carefully to what they are saying.

      • AmericanTaxPayerNoMore

        Filipino Nurses aren’t the problem, the problem is, they’re here.  Filipino’s belong in the Philippines.

        No one wants to have to strain to listen carefully because some Third World Alien has a heavy accent.  No one wants to pay for them, have to take up the slack ’cause they’re not as smart and quick as others love to tell us and no one, including you, wants to deal with the language and cultural barrier these people bring to our doorstep.

        As for the licences, they’ve lowered the standards and that’s how and why you see so many non-white “Professionals” these days.  You’ve got to stop giving these people undeserved sympathy.  They chose to come here and then want to sue because they were asked to speak English, the Language of the Land, the place where they draw a paycheck and have at their fingertips, all kinds Minority Privilege paid for by English Speaking Americans and then dare to sue over the very Language the money they “earn” is printed in.  Stop straining yourself to understand them.  I don’t.  I speak only to Americans.

  • tickyul

    In general, I like most asian people. I also get along pretty well with Filipino men…..pretty cool for the most part.

    Filipino Women………..stick a nail in my brain…..I cannot stand the sight of these arrogant, snide, nasty monsters.

    It is a pathetic country when you have to bring in nurses from a 3rd world rathole. Go to a hospital where there is a bunch of them……….sounds like monkeys jabbering back and forth.

  • jedsrael

    By 2050, speaking the White Man’s English in America will be deemed “an incitement to racial hatred and violence”.

    http://imagine2050.newcomm.org/about/

    Who We Are

    Imagine 2050 includes activists, immigrants, artists and students who are invested in a future nation that embodies a multiracial democracy. By the year 2050, one out of five Americans will be foreign born. Latino and Asian communities will increase significantly. There will be no clear racial or ethnic majority.

    We will become a nation of minorities. Today’s perceptions of foreignness will challenge how Americans identify themselves over the coming decades. In light of these challenges, Imagine 2050 is committed to igniting candid conversations around race, immigration, environment, and American identity.
     
     

  • bluffcreek1967

    “The scar is always there” – Nonsense! This woman has no emotional scars over this matter. She just knows how to talk like a liberal, using expressions so as to manipulate our civil courts. She has learned well.

  • “They were always telling us, ‘Ssshhh. English only. English only. I felt embarrassed, ashamed,” said Elnora Cayme, who worked at the hospital for more than 27 years.

    She worked there 27 years and now it becomes an issue?

    I found the claims of ridicule to be suspect. Most people in business/work settings know not to mock and harass co-workers. It’s simply not tolerated and most people are respectful of others.

    My guess is that a friend or family member heard about a questionable incident and said, “you can sue for that”.

    How bad could it have been if you put up with it for 27 years?

  • When people start dying because the Hispanic nurse can’t communicate with the Filipino intern who can’t talk to the Arab doctor, things are going to get even more interesting.

  • Mel

    I hate it when people are speaking their ‘native tongue’ around me.  I feel it is rude and lacks transparency. You have no idea what they are saying, they could be talking about inappropriate things or saying vitriolic things about you.  

    I once had a Korean women start to talk loudly about me, I knew she was talking about me because she keep saying my name very loudly. She was talking to a bunch of Koreans I didn’t know. It was very alienating, especially since I’ve had to self-censor since a teenager because if you are white people are looking for you to say ‘racist’ things so they can sanctimoniously tick you off. 

    It is this double-standard thing; what is not okay for whites is okay for everyone else. I wonder when the day will come when whites will starting taking people to court for the humiliation they experience having to repeat themselves constantly to people who giggle and say ‘sorry I can’t understand’ or talk about them in another language, or never being able to have conversations with work colleagues because their language skills are so poor and never seem to improved or having to repeatedly explain to someone that they really can’t understand what they are saying and are not trying to be provocative by pretending to not understand. 

  • Up to my neck in CA

    I worked with Fiilpinos in the past. Their accent was so bad all I ever heard was “taka-taka-taka” and they had been living the states over 20 years. It’s time to make English the national language.

  • “They were always telling us, ‘Ssshhh. English only. English only. I felt embarrassed, ashamed,” said Elnora Cayme, who worked at the hospital for more than 27 years.”
    You know, Elnora. After 27 bloody years in this one job (let alone how long you’ve been in OUR country), YOU SHOULD HAVE FELT ASHAMED!

    When a country can’t even make their own native tongue normative, they deserve to be overrun by a conqueror. Misericordie, Domine. 

  • I guess these health professionals can return to their native countries.  Problem is:  who is going to take care of you when you are sick since many Americans don’t want to put in the hours to become one?

  • AmericanTaxPayerNoMore

    I can deal with Irish even when they speak Gaelic.  Irish are White so, it goes without saying, they’re more than capable.

    Americans.  I do not ascribe that God Given Name, American, to non-whites and not all Whites neither for that matter.  Liberals have no place here.  Democrats neither when you really think about it…

  • Up to my neck in CA

    “We feel we restored our dignity—but there’s no closure,” said Hilda Ducusin, a staff nurse for 10 years. “The scar is always there.”
     
    A scar that can be opened up again with the slightest perceived insult that can be stitched closed with more money. Nothing “heals” lost dignity to a poor minority more than money. When in a sane world learning proper English would be first on the list.

  • AmericanTaxPayerNoMore

    It has to be laziness.  Or perhaps it comes from a genuine hatred for the host Country.  I think it’s both.

  • Santa

    wow what a bunch of inbred tools messaging here. Unless your ancestors came to the USA from England , I’m pretty darn sure they didnt speak English well and had a thick accent(that accent could be German, Swedish, French…. for those in the southern USA who think accent means brown folks. I guess your white pointy hats are on too tight and your sheets shrunk in the wash), .

    I disagree with the lawsuit(i disagree with most lawsuits). I agree that these nurses should speak English in front of English speaking patients and staff during working hours. Although What they do on their break time, on their own cellphone and in whichever language they choose is up to them. And as some others have said I would choose a sweet, hardworking, caring Filipina nurse with an accent over any other any day.

  • GoHome

    Would it be possible for them to stay in the Philippines? We truly don’t need them here and we don’t need to pander to them, that just adds insult to injury. America is the only country stupid enough to lay off its own workers and import foreigners to take their jobs. Please go home filipinos.