In January, the Common Sense Advisory predicted that the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) would begin taking a stronger stance on language issues under the Obama administration ("Title VI Enforcement to Grow under Obama," Jan09). Two months later, this assertion is already proving to be true. As federal agencies prepare to hand out funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the DOJ issued an important reminder about the role of language.
The Department of Justice highlighted the fact that all recipients of federal dollars - and that includes private companies - must comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which expressly prohibits national origin discrimination, "including language access for limited English proficient persons." In other words, before beneficiaries dole out AIG-sized bonuses, they would be wise to make sure that their budgets account for translation needs.
Even with cutbacks in many commercial accounts, beneficiaries of recovery monies - both public and private - will not be able to slash language services from their budgets without costly consequences. In fact, the DOJ is making the most of the opportunity to ensure that the funds are spent in compliance with federal law.