U.S. slams local bakery for poor Spanish translation

A bakery in Chicago was facing a union election, and it warned its employees that if they joined a union and held a strike, it would “exercise our legal right to hire replacement workers.” It then translated this message for its Spanish-speaking employees, but the translator goofed. The translation said, in effect, that if the workers held a strike, the bakery would “exercise our right to hire legal replacement workers.”

The bakery won the election by a vote of 20-16. But the federal government set the result aside and ordered a “do-over.” Why? Because the poor translation could have been understood by the Spanish workers as an improper threat concerning their immigration status.

There was no suggestion that the poor translation was anything other than an honest mistake, and there was no other reference to immigration in the union campaign. But the government said this didn’t matter; the bakery was still responsible for its wording.

The moral of the story for employers is that if anything is being translated that is of legal significance, it’s worth making an extra effort to ensure accuracy.