Filipino nurses settle language-bias case: The $975,000 secured in a dispute with Delano Regional Medical Center is believed to be the largest such settlement in the U.S. healthcare industry.
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.”
Although the hospital, near Bakersfield, employed a mix of bilingual employees speaking Spanish, Hindi, Bengali and other languages, managers targeted only the Filipinos and encouraged supervisors and other staffers to “act as vigilantes.”
Photo: Nurse Wilma Lamug is overcome with emotion as she recounts the discrimination she and other Filipino nurses experienced while working at the Delano Regional Medical Center in Delano, Calif. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times
The harassment went further:
“The language policy created such a hostile work environment that one worker even sprayed air freshener on a Filipino employee’s lunch to register her “hatred for Filipino food,” Park said.