Spanish-speaking custodial workers at the Auraria Higher Education Center in Colorado, a campus that serves students from three colleges, are suing based on what they say is a failure of their bosses to communicate with them in their native language, according to published reports.
The workers said the language gap created unsafe working conditions, according to The Denver Post.
The roughly dozen custodial workers filed a complaint against AHEC with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The Denver Post reported that Tim Markham, the attorney representing the workers, said that the center only communicated with its workers in English – which had resulted in men suffering injuries on the job as well as changes in their schedule that were detrimental to them.
Officials with the AHEC, which caters to students from the Metropolitan State University of Denver, the University of Colorado-Denver and the Community College of Denver, told several media outlets they had not had a chance to review the complaint.
But The Denver Post said that Blaine Nickeson, an AHEC vice president, said the AHEC knew that some custodians had complained about their working conditions.
Nickeson said that the AHEC does offer some translations, and that serving all of the diverse groups of janitors in their native language is not feasible.
"We have a staff of over 100 custodians, and a small group of them were dissatisfied with changes that were made about a year and a half ago," Nickeson said, according to the Post. "There were recourses available to them, and they took the opportunity to use them; however, the issues weren't resolved to their satisfaction."
The custodians’ attorney said his clients are not seeking anything that other employers do not provide.
“Other higher education facilities including CU and UNC provide information to their custodial employees in a number of different languages,” Markham is quoted by The Daily Caller as saying. “We’ve been discussing this with Auraria for a year with no movement on their part, and this is the final step.”