A controversial sign inside a dialysis clinic that invokes the in Farmers Branch, TX is raising quite a few eyebrows, and rightfully so. The sign reads:
“English Speaking only beyond this point: Unless you are translating for a patient….. [sic]”
Now, anyone who is not an anti-immigrant bigot would take issue with such a sign in a dialysis clinic, particularly in an area with a large Spanish-speaking population such as Farmers Branch. Carlos Quintanilla of Action America, a Latino activist group, said of the sign:
“Spanish is almost a very viable language here in Texas. You’d think as good business people, you’d want to embrace this community that’s growing.”
On Thursday afternoon, News 8 contacted Fresenius Medical Care, one of the largest dialysis companies in the nation — and the company who runs this particular dialysis clinic — for a statement. Joe Stone, spokesman for Fresenius, said:
“We value the diversity of our workforce. It is important for safety, patient care, efficiency, and supervision that our staff use a common language in the area where patients are treated,” Stone wrote. “For this reason, the treatment floor is the only area in our facilities where we ask our staff to use English in their communication.”
Personally, I am not buying the ‘safety’ explanation, and I’d be willing to bet that the Latino community of Farmers Branch isn’t, either, especially since tensions have run high with regards to that community in regards to this issue. Carlos Quantanilla doesn’t sound too convinced, either. He said:
“Someone needs to tell them there’s a better way to get that message out.”
Indeed. Also, Stone and his company will have a whole lot of explaining to do if they don’t want this to look like they are just saving face for publicity’s sake or for protection from an EEOC lawsuit. Here is the full statement from Fresenius:
“We value the diversity of our workforce and encourage all employees to respect different cultural values, customs and languages that co-workers bring into the workplace. It’s important for safety, patient care, efficiency and supervision that our staff use a common language in the area where patients are treated. For this reason, the treatment floor is the only area in our facilities where we ask our staff to use English in their communication. During the course of the workday, our employees can speak with patients in the treatment areas in their native languages when those patients have no or limited knowledge of English. Languages other than English may also be used in break rooms and any other areas outside of the treatment floor.” – Jon Stone, Fresenius Dialysis Clinic Spokesman.
According to the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), it is actually illegal to require employees to speak English only. Does this extend at all to patients in a medical facility? The dialysis clinic has done its homework. There is a clause to the EEOC Speak-English Only Rules that says:
- An English-only rule should be limited to the circumstances in which it is needed for the employer to operate safely or efficiently.
Aha. How safe is it to require a patient to discuss life-threatening medical issues at a dialysis clinic in a language that they don’t speak natively, if they speak it at all?
Submitted by Liberal America.