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WCAB Upholds Order to Pay Interpreter Fees Issued by Workers’ Compensation Judge at Hearing

(2018) 2018 Cal. Wrk. Comp. P.D. LEXIS 123

The parties appeared at a Status Conference on January 22, 2018.  The applicant was present and was assisted by a Spanish interpreter.  At the conclusion of the hearing (which was taken off calendar to allow time for additional discovery), the interpreter requested that defense counsel sign a Stipulation to Pay Interpreter Fees in the amount of $165.00.  Defense counsel refused.  The Workers’ Compensation Judge then issued an Order to Pay Interpreter Fees.

Defendant filed a Petition for Reconsideration arguing that the Order violated Labor Code §5318 because it was not supported by a finding of fact or a record of decision.  Defendant further argued that the Order did not comply with Board rule 10451.3(e) because the interpreter’s “Petition” for costs should not have been filed for at least 60 days after the demand for payment of costs had been made.

The WCAB rejected both arguments.

The Commissioners noted that absent a legitimate dispute, a defendant is liable for interpretation costs pursuant to Labor Code §5710(b)(5) and AD Rule 9795.3(a)(5) and should pay that cost without requiring a Petition for Costs.  Here, defendant did not object to the need for interpreting services or the amount claimed.

Further, the Order did not violate Labor Code §5313 because the Order signed by the Workers’ Compensation Judge contained all of the relevant facts relied on by the Judge.  The Order stated that the applicant was present at the hearing and required an interpreter.  It also listed the identity of the interpreter, the certification number, the Tax I.D. number, and the amount of payment sought.  Under the circumstances, there was no basis to challenge the order to pay interpreter fees.

Written by Edward L. Hummer, Associate Attorney in our Santa Rosa office, June 2018.