Written by Mary Pat Withem

“”You’ve created a hostile work environment. We are putting you on administrative leave without pay, your email has been shut down, and your key card is deactivated. We would like you to gather your things and leave the premises. You will not be allowed back in the center….” My world started to tilt at that moment.”(The Sign Language Interpreter)

Imagine being told you have been creating a hostile work environment simply because you have decided to remind yourself that working so many hours or a certain percentage can lead to being burnt out quicker. That is what happened to the author of “The Sign Language Interpreter” If the VRS industry is so cutthroat, why are they terminating employees and then later trying to bribe them with a large check with agreement that they don’t tell anybody their story?

Not only are interpreters being mistreated, interpreters are being worked to death just to meet quotas and are paid by the hour but must meet high percentage of calls per hour to bring in profit margins for the company. Isn’t this the modern day example of a sweat shop?

While HR is responsible to ensure that decisions are made in the best interest of a company, they are also there to ensure that everything done by the company is ethical, legal and to provide a safe exit interview or termination process. This company has clearly failed in such methods:

While we are not going to assume which company this was, it is pretty obvious that it is one of the larger companies located in Long Beach (hint – According to a search via Google, there is only ONE company that has several call centers/offices in Long Beach, California.) We, as a community should be responsible to defend our interpreters against wrongful workplace practices by employers. The interesting thing is that Street Leverage will probably never admit that this is wrongful use of interpreters especially since somebody says that a co-founder of Street Leverage is the Regional Manager of the company mentioned

It is very difficult to understand the other perspective when somebody is talking about being terminated because they had apparently established a hostile work environment and then they are offered ten thousand dollars to keep quiet? What kind of company does that and who in their right mind would stay in a workplace like that if it’s really that bad?

There are many factors that affect whether a person is happy in the workplace including passion for their job and other employees around them. This employee loved her job because she believed in doing what she does and also loved working with the people she worked with. This is where the downfall is, when people love their job so much they become blind to what might be happening around them.

The sad thing is, our community does not realize what companies are doing just to turn profit. They put their employees at risk and don’t consider their rights within the workplace. Even though it would be easy to leave, it is also very hard to leave so don’t make interpreters the person in the wrong!