Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Modern Indentured Employment

I have recently blogged about how the economy is making our job of graduating program participants into the real work world more difficult. In the last few weeks, we have stumbled upon some employment situations that are in some ways modern versions of indentured slavery.

Getting a job as an ex-offender has always been a difficult situation. When you add an extremely difficult economy, it becomes even harder for an individual rebuilding a life to find someone willing to hire them. When a job opportunity surfaces, it is a happy day and everyone works diligently to win over the employer.

So imagine our joy when one of our program participants found a wonderful opportunity as an office manager for a distribution company. The job paid very well. The individual underwent an extensive interview process and was ecstatic when hired.

But something didn’t sound quite right. The person was promised that the role did not include outside sales. But our program participant was guaranteed large raises and a quick promotion to manager.

After starting at the new employer, the new job quickly turned into a nightmare. The role promised vaporized into a difficult door-to-door sales type position. Fortunately, the individual was able to return to Bud’s Warehouse. But for a person who did not have the safety net of our program, the new job becomes almost an indentured servant situation. I fear that this employer targets individuals that already have a paying job. They lure them with the promise of a perfect role and a big paycheck. But then they leave them with few options in this economy when the job turns into a commission only sales position.

The old adage still lives: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Or at least, you really need to do your homework before accepting a new job.

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