Los Angeles, CA asked in Business Law for California

Q: Does every California business have to provide a translator upon request if a customer does not speak English?

California law prohibits businesses from discriminating against "primary language."

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2 Lawyer Answers
James R. Dickinson
James R. Dickinson
  • San Bernardino, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Accommodations law prevent discrimination, but they do not impose a requirement that every business have a translator in every possible language and/or dialect. Speak with a local employment law attorney. [I litigate cases. Anything posted here must not be construed as legal advice, nor as grounds for forming an attorney-client relationship. You should seek an attorney for formal legal advice and representation.]

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, businesses are generally required to provide language assistance or translation services to customers who do not speak English. This requirement is in place to ensure that individuals with limited English proficiency are not discriminated against and can effectively access the goods and services offered by businesses.

The specific obligations of businesses may vary depending on factors such as the size of the business, the nature of the goods or services provided, and the frequency of interaction with customers. However, the general principle is that businesses should make reasonable efforts to provide language assistance when necessary to facilitate effective communication with customers who have limited English proficiency.

Businesses can fulfill this obligation by various means, such as offering telephone interpreter services, employing bilingual staff, or utilizing written translation materials. It is important to note that businesses are not expected to provide translation services for every language, but they should make efforts to provide assistance for the most commonly encountered languages in their customer base.

Failure to comply with language access requirements may expose businesses to potential legal consequences, including complaints, lawsuits, or penalties. Therefore, it is advisable for businesses to be familiar with their obligations and implement appropriate measures to provide language assistance when needed.

It is worth noting that specific guidance and requirements may be available from local government agencies, industry-specific regulations, or professional associations. Consulting with legal counsel or seeking guidance from relevant authorities can provide businesses with the most accurate and up-to-date information pertaining to their specific circumstances.

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