Hello. My name is Jay. I worked as a translator (an independent contractor) for the Korean-English pair at an online translation company in California (henceforth, the company) for four years. About two months ago, I received the termination notice. I believe it was wrongful dismissal. I would like to file a claim in small claims court in Toronto and I need your help.
(Please note that the company claims to provide “professional translation services”)
1. Using the (translation) quality score (i.e., you get terminated from the platform if you get reviewed and receive an average of below 8) from reviews, the company intentionally created a harsh working environment and gave me psychological distress for four years to the extent that they made me “temporarily insane”.
a. The company did not hire a native Korean translator for reviews upon requested.
1) Unlike English, the Korean language has not been fully studied.
2) They used Google Translate for reviews.
b. The company intentionally used reviews for harassment
1) The company determined that I translated a word that did not exist in the source text when in fact it was there.
2) Even after I specifically pointed out the word in the re-review request, the review remained the same.
c. I was penalized if a reviewer did not like a certain word I used.
1) I was penalized for using “I would appreciate…” instead of “Thank you”
2) I was penalized for using “the both parties” in MOU
- The reviewer who has never even translated MOU stated that “the” implied “both”.
d. I was penalized for using a certain grammar structure that the company had used in another review.
1) I was penalized for not using a type 0 conditional sentence by a reviewer in review #1.
2) Then I was penalized FOR USING a type 0 conditional sentence by a reviewer in review #2.
- In fact, the reviewer in review #2 did not even know that such rule existed.
e. The company insisted on direct (i.e. word-for-word) translation without considering contextual information
1) E.g #1 article (a & the)
- Given that a client company (a top IT company with billions of users) provided more than $20,000 (>1000 hours of translation) worth of jobs in two years, I took the context (i.e., every single job) into consideration and translated a word (“a” website). Then I was penalized because the reviewer who did not take the context into consideration and only focused on a single translation said it should be “the” website.
(Please note there is no article in the Korean language)
2) E.g. #2 proper nouns
- Given that a lot of information regarding a client company (a top IT company) could be found online, I looked up proper nouns that were misspelled in the source text. But the reviewer insisted that I stick with wrong proper nouns. When I refused to do so, I was penalized every time. (Ads Manager instead of Ad Manager & Web Games URL instead of Web Game URL)
3) E.g. #3 function words
- I was penalized for using a certain function word.
(“The error could not be reproduced from the messenger tab” -> “The error could not be reproduced on the messenger tab”)
4) E.g. #4 penalized despite following the company rule
- As shown above, I was penalized if I revised source text with problems. So for a while, I submitted translations without making any modification.
- But I was still penalized.
(My reviewer divided one complex sentence from the source text into two independent clauses joined by “and”)
5) E.g. #5 penalized for quality translation
- I was penalized for adding “non-profit business activity” referenced from a Korean client’s website for a gibberish proper noun (“Coding Everybody”) coined by the client himself.
6) E.g. #6 reviewing without understanding the source text
- I was penalized because my reviewer did not bother to understand the 500 Internal Server Error for a job consisting of three sentences.
(It can be easily found when you google “500 error”)
7) E.g. #7
- I was penalized for using “something” instead of “section”.
2. To confirm if reviews were used for harassment, I tested the company; I notified the company every job (on every day) that could not be directly translated for a month (19/04/11 ~ 19/05/13). I did not get any reply.
3. The company intentionally sent late RSS/email notifications.
a. The company is operated in such a way that many translators (independent contractors) compete for the same jobs uploaded by clients.
1) For about four months near the end of the termination, I kept getting late RSS/email notifications for job availability. I made numerous inquiries, but the company refused to acknowledge and fix the problem.
4. A few days before I was terminated, I confirmed that the company was giving me a hard time on purpose by asking other translators in the translator forum if anybody else had had the same experience.
a. I asked if anybody else was penalized for translating a word in the source text that the company intentionally ignored or for not employing the literal translation method.
1) Only one translator replied — but the problem was associated with her style of translation.
5. Termination notice
a. On June 28th 2019, I received the termination notice from the company after telling a client to look for other services that provide proper reviews in the comment section.
1) I left the comment when I found out the company intentionally ignored the revised version of the ungrammatical source text in the comment — the client approved the revised version — and reviewed that it was mistranslated.
2) At that time, I lost all conscious control and was not consciously able to think about consequences.
3) Ironically, the company then checked the comment section and immediately terminated me.
b. The company stated that the reasons for termination were including personal information in the comment that damaged the company’s reputation and “other cases of of unprofessional behavior towards” the company.
1) Regarding including personal information in the comment
- Most of the time, the company ignored inquiries that I made regarding translations (i.e. “this case has been closed” without any reply).
- Leaving comments was the only way for me to communicate with clients.
- According to (the company’s) Translator Agreement, I was to provide quality translations, which I did by communicating with clients in every single case.
2) Regarding the comment that damaged the company’s reputation
- It was the company that prompted me to write the comment after years of abuse. I was so infuriated that I could not think logically.
- Furthermore, it was the company itself that damaged its own reputation, not my comment.
- After my account was terminated, I kept receiving comments from the client (the one that is involved with the termination) that the client would love me to continue to translate as a preferred translator (a translator who gets notified jobs 5 minutes before others).
- Seeing that the company did not inform the client that they terminated my account, I told them to tell the truth and to stop impersonating me, but the company refused.
3) Regarding unprofessional behavior
- I can assure you that whatever unprofessional behavior they are referring to has always been initiated by the company.
- After terminated, I asked the company if I could access every inquiry that I had made for evidence before filing a claim. The company refused.
In conclusion, I believe I was wrongfully dismissed and I would like to file a claim. Since this is my first time, I do not know how much money I am going to need. But now that I talked to a law student at a free legal clinic and filed a case with US EEOC without much success, my next step must be talking to an actual lawyer, filing a claim in small claims court if not in Toronto, then in California. So I am going to need as much help as I can get to accomplish it. With your help, I can inform others you know that got wrongfully dismissed what their next step should be. Thank you for your time and let's make things right!