LUISA HERNANDEZ, Complainant
SARA LEE CORPORATION, Respondent
An administrative law judge (ALJ) for the Equal Rights Division of the Department of Workforce Development issued a decision in this matter. A timely petition for review was filed.
The commission has considered the petition and the positions of the parties, and it has reviewed the evidence submitted to the ALJ. Based on its review, the commission agrees with the decision of the ALJ, and it adopts the findings and conclusion in that decision as its own.
The decision of the administrative law judge (copy attached) is affirmed.
Dated and mailed May 21, 2004
hernalu . rsd : 164 : 9
/s/ James T. Flynn, Chairman
/s/ David B. Falstad, Commissioner
/s/ Robert Glaser, Commissioner
In her petition for commission review the complainant argues that she missed the hearing because she was confused about the date. The complainant cites to language difficulties as the source of this confusion. Based upon its review of the matter, the commission sees no basis to conclude that the complainant's failure to appear at the hearing was with good cause. While English is clearly not the complainant's first language, she has not alleged that she is unable to read English and has not explained why her limited facility with English interfered with her ability to note the correct hearing date. Simply put, the complainant has not provided any reason to conclude that her difficulties with English prevented her from understanding the hearing notice.
Moreover, even if the commission were to determine that the complainant was completely unable to read English, this would still not excuse her failure to appear at the hearing. The commission has consistently held that a party who cannot read English or does not read English well has an obligation to have documents translated. See, Dacquisto v. Fleming Companies Inc., UI Dec. Hearing No. 03601013MW (LIRC, May 7, 2003); Ortiz v. Doskocil Food Service, UI Dec. Hearing No. 03000405MD (LIRC, June 5, 2003); Thelen v. Toms Quality Millwork Inc, UI Dec. Hearing No. 99003677MD (LIRC, December 22, 1999); Rogelio A. Morales, TRA Dec. Hearing No. 03610728MW (LIRC, March 22, 2004). The complainant knew that a hearing had not yet been held in her case, and should have been anticipating a hearing notice. The complainant was obligated to carefully read the hearing notice or have it translated for her, if necessary, and to note the date of the hearing.
The commission notes that the complainant was able to file a complaint, and managed to read or have translated the initial determination and take appropriate action to file a timely appeal. She was also able to read or have translated the administrative law judge's dismissal order, and filed a timely petition for review. The commission sees no reason to believe that the complainant was not capable of understanding or gaining understanding of the hearing notice, notwithstanding her lack of facility with English, and her failure to do so does not provide her with good cause for missing the hearing. Accordingly, the dismissal of the hearing request is affirmed.
NOTE: The complainant has requested that the commission issue its decision in Spanish. However, the commission does not have the capability to prepare decisions or other materials in Spanish at this time. If the complainant has difficulty reading this document, it is her obligation to have it translated.
Attorney John L. Collins
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