Who is the Hispanic Worker?

The ominous question begs more definition. There is no intent to slight or malign any person or persons from any particular ethnic origin of a Spanish speaking country. Certainly, there are those that would prefer to be identified by their country of origin, and others, depending on their geographic location in the United States, who prefer the term "Latino". The term "Hispanic" has been generally understood and accepted to represent the peoples of many different Spanish speaking countries and is used to present this material with some form of continuity. We are dealing with a Spanish-speaking workforce that comes from many different countries and that includes the Hispanic American (U.S. born), those not born in their parents' Latin American country of origin.

Generally, the Hispanic worker is no different from anyone else. The slight differences can be attributed to upbringing, cultural and economic backgrounds and the way some people look at opportunities for advancement. The male is usually the breadwinner and he is family oriented. Because of his background, he may not be as educated as his American counterpart; however, he is still highly intelligent and has a knack for manual dexterity when it comes to machinery. He is very religious and his faith gives him comfort and strength. A proud person, he does not want to admit that he "can't do" or "don't understand" something. His cultural background rarely challenges authority and will most likely not request or insist on any benefits that may be due to him. Most, if treated fairly, tend to be loyal to their employers.

While investigating workplace injuries, I was able to speak with many injured employees. Notwithstanding the safety issues, I was able to determine from dealing with the Hispanic workforce that non-reporting of injuries or late reports were the direct result of several factors. The Hispanic worker felt that getting injured on the job was just one of those things that happened and their "Macho-ism" allowed them to live with it and not report it. Of course, some did not report the injury for fear of losing their job. Additionally, there were many Hispanic men that felt going to a doctor was a sign of weakness, and coupled with their perception of being charged for the visit, they would opt not to report an injury. A very small percentage didn't know who to report an injury to.

Still, many were unaware of workers' compensation insurance programs or lacked the understanding of the benefits associated with such programs. This went the same for knowledge of any companies' Return to Work Programs.

The diverse populations of the United States often times will stereotype others and because of that people view others thinking they do not have the same problems or thoughts of advancement and the dream of pursuing happiness. The Hispanic, as do others, have some of the same problems and dreams of any of America's workforce.

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