Last week, MultiLingual reported on accusations against Linguistica International that allege the telephone interpreting (OPI) provider has paid some interpreters as low as 4 USD per hour. Not to be confused with the UK-based language services provider (LSP) of the same name, Linguistica International is located in Salt Lake City, Utah and provides telephonic interpreting to New York City schools. Signed in 2019, the contract is for 10 million USD over five years.
According to local newspaper New York Daily News, Linguistica International relies on interpreters who live and work in Mexico in order to fulfill this contract, paying them as little as 4 USD per hour — below Mexico’s required minimum wage of 123.22 pesos (roughly equivalent to 6.04 USD) and far below New York City’s minimum wage of 15 USD.
Since our report, New York mayor Bill de Blasio’s office has “referred the matter” to the city’s department of investigation (DOI) for review, according to Daily News reporter Michael Elsen-Rooney. In addition to its work with New York City’s department of education (DOE), Elsen-Rooney writes Linguistica International is one of multiple LSPs sharing a 48 million USD contract with New York Health + Hospitals, the largest public health care system in the United States.
Linguistica International is also accused of inadequately training interpreters and of what Elsen-Rooney calls “loose security measures for confidential calls recordings.” In the past, Daily Mail has also reported on up to 20 minute hold times for Mandarin Chinese interpreter access.
It’s unclear what — if anything — DOI could do about Linguistica International’s non-US payment policies. While DOI is one of the oldest law enforcement agencies in the country, it is a city agency. Its jurisdiction is limited to New York City’s mayoral agencies and municipal departments. And according to Daily Mail, just because the mayor’s office has requested an investigation doesn’t mean DOI will even conduct one. Once taken-up investigations are complete, however, DOI should publish any findings on its website.