Q. We have a number of Hispanic employees who speak little or no English. One of these employees recently resigned through a Spanish-speaking co-worker acting as interpreter. She quit after we denied a raise because of problems with her timecard. Her mother called and demanded that we rehire her daughter. Are we under any legal obligation to rehire? —W.K., Maryland
A. No. You're not obligated to rehire employees who have resigned as long as there's not a court order or employment contract involved. But the language barrier you describe suggests that you should at least make sure that there was no misunderstanding of what was said.
Talk to any witnesses and try to determine whether the translation was accurate. If she recently complained of discrimination or other unlawful acts, be careful. Your failure to rehire her could serve as the basis of a retaliation claim.
Last, make sure that your decision in this case is consistent with those in similar situations. In other words, you would take the same action with all who didn't follow your timecard policies.
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