Unfair Hiring Practices? You're Not Alone
Neighbor To Family, Inc. is a private, not-for-profit foster care organization focused on keeping siblings together. Neighbor To Family is based in Daytona Beach, Florida and was founded in 1998 by Gordon Johnson, M.Ed., LLD who serves as its President and CEO.
Program sites include:
- Duvall, Flagler, Putnam and Volusia counties in Florida;
- Greater Atlanta area, Chatham County and Richmond County in Georgia;
- Baltimore, Maryland;
- Guilford County, North Carolina; and
- Charleston County, South Carolina. " Wikipedia
Everywhere you look there are bound to be some stories of unfair hiring practices in almost any type of business in the United States.
Even though most of us are savvy to these unfair practices, sometimes one may fall for them simply because of your desire to work or the excitement that a new job might offer.
Although I have been involved in some way or another in the business world both as an employee and as a supervisor, even as a COO, I recently fell for one of these.
Simply put I was promised a job and then the job never came. Here is the story of how Neighbors to Family, a nonprofit dedicated to helping foster kids and unaccompanied minors failed miserably in maintaining the level of professionalism that one could expect from such an organization.
It bears mentioning that NTF had lost its contract with the Department of Children's and Families so now their full attention is focused on the Unaccompanied Minors' program.
Approximately on September the 9th I received a call from the Director of Children & Family Safety; Mr. Jose Diaz from the nonprofit Neighbor to Family or NTF for short. I was scheduled for an interview on September the 22nd.
A few days after the original telephone call the Director of Children and Safety from NTF called me once again
"Luis I don't need to interview you. Your resume is impressive and the other resumes that I have are so so. The job is yours if you are interested and the pay will be $35,000 per year."
Telephone call September 12 at 1:29 PM
Not currently employed I welcomed the offer and waited for the date of September 22 to arrive. Then again on September the 18th I once again was called by Mr. Diaz and told that due to some budget cuts the pay rate was lower than what I was told. It would now be around $30,000.
"Mr. Gonzalez, I am writing to let you know that after a program budget review the salaried pay rate for the position of Safety Advocate ORR/UAC with Neighbor to Family, has been lowered to $30,000.00 a year. Your work week will be Monday-Friday, weekends/ Holidays off and benefits after 90 days of employment.If you have any further questions or concerns prior to your set interview time and date, please do not hesitate to call me. If you decide that you do not like the terms listed please contact me to let me know you are no longer interested in the position and would like to cancel you interview."
Email September 18, 2014 4:59 PM
I indicated that the job and its functions were the things that drew my attention and not so much the salary.
"Well, come in on the 22nd to get the paperwork in order".
Mr. Gonzalez. As soon as you receive this message can you send me your home address so we can put it on your paperwork it is not on your resume."
Email September 18, 2014 8:27 AM
Two days later I called and sent an email letting Mr. Diaz know that I had just found out that my driving license was suspended but was taking steps to correct it. It turns out that my son was driving a car that I had co-signed for him and had "forgotten" to pay tolls on his way to college.
I further indicated that I had a previous job offer which would have offered me a slightly higher salary. I was then told that I should turn that offer down because the job was mine.
On September the 22nd I attended what can be called nothing else but an orientation. Here is where I was told about my duties, my salary, the equipment I was to be given and other minor details.
This meeting was attended by Mr. Jose Diaz and the Director of the center, Mrs. Karen Husted.
Among the things that were shared was that I needed to take care of my driver's license where I indicated that by Wednesday or so of the week I would have cleared everything and would once again have my driving privileges restored.
"well as long as you do that you can start early the following week, because we're moving to some new offices a few blocks away"
Face to face conversation September 22nd at 4:19 PM
All parties then agreed that my driving privileges were no longer an issue. I was given the paperwork for the FBI fingerprint's check, the paperwork for the drug test and instructions as to some other things which were needed such as a local background test and a tuberculosis test at a local clinic of my choice.
I paid all of my son's toll violations through the telephone on Friday.That Monday I managed to do the local background test. On Tuesday I did the fingerprints and the Urinalysis. On Wednesday while I was waiting to pay the reinstatement fee at my local driving license office I was once more called by Mr. Jose Diaz and told that his boss; Mrs. Karen Husted, had called him and told him not to hire me. I was shocked at this news as well as Mr. Diaz or so he claimed.
A couple of hours later I called and was told by Mr. Diaz that apparently a comment that I had made at the end of the orientation had bothered Mrs. Husted
"Something about NTF needing other staff, and that I knew some people who may be qualified and asked if it would be OK to refer them"
Telephone call September 24 at 3:49 PM
On several follow up emails and phone calls I reiterated to Mr. Diaz that I had spent my savings of $3800 to reinstate my license, something I did not need to do then were it not for the job offer and furthermore was told to do. I also indicated that as requested I had turned down the previous job offer from another employer.
To make matters worse, I had to inform the unemployment compensation office from my state of a promised start date which in turn had the effect of cancelling my unemployment benefits.
"Mr. Diaz, I now lost my savings, lost another job and no longer count with unemployment compensation, this is unfair what should I do now"
Telephone call September 24 at 4:26 PM
I asked Mr. Diaz if he could speak to Mrs. Husted to see if anything could be done and was told that he would.
It has been more than a few days since then and I have not even had the courtesy of receiving a reply to two other inquires, not to mention some fees that came out of pocket, and now feel as if I was not only unfairly treated but also manipulated.
I was not raised to be selfish and whenever I can help someone I will. A comment asking if more staff was needed and could I refer them seems harmless but I am not in the decision maker's mind so perhaps to her this is offensive. Sorts of "how dare I ask" scenario.
Before I forget I did make the comment at the orientation that I would "kill my son" for having failed to pay the tolls. This was said sorts of a tongue in cheek manner and I did clarify that all I would do was to have a serious talk with him about responsibility, to which all parties chuckled afterwards.
To clarify further, I did not go ahead with the Tuberculosis test nor paid for the reinstatement of my driving privileges because it would have come to about $ 224.00 which I had borrowed and consequently returned after the negative news. This I also had the foresight of letting Mr. Diaz know.
Off course due to the way laws are set up I do not believe that I could do anything via the legal system nor would I probably do anyways. This seems like yet another loophole in our legal system, at least in the State of Florida.
I respect the job that NTF does and admire their efforts to reunite children with relatives. That was what peaked my interest in the job the first time.
This does not mean that I don't feel lied to, manipulated, or unfairly treated but it goes to show how an employer, even a supposedly reputable one, can say almost anything, can make you do almost anything, prey on your desperation to provide for your loved ones, and get away with anything by simply giving one a promise of a job.
Did you know that I even went as far as to send an email offering to reimburse NTF for the expenses of the finger prints and drug tests!
"Please let me know about the costs of the drug and fingerprint tests. Having worked for a nonprofit organization in the past I am aware that every penny counts and I truly believe that it is only fair to refund your organization for these costs."
Email September 24th at 3:25 PM
It just goes to show you that “Rationality doesn't exist; right is absence of wrongness and wrong is what seems to be unfair.”
Would I accept a job with NTF if I were to be offered one tomorrow? Absolutely. You are also probably asking by now why would I still want to work for an organization that in my opinion treated me so unfairly. Perhaps this anecdote from my life will help in clarifying my reasons; in an email sent to Mr. Jose Diaz, Director of Children and Safety dated September 29th, 2014 at 2:10 pm
"Hello Mr Diaz, any hope or should I throw in the towel?
BTW, I really feel that none should be judged unless those who judge have walked in the other's shoes.
In case anyone should wonder why I am so insistent or if I am "right for the job" or not it is because I have walked in your participant's shoes;
I am a product of the tumultuous Castro revolution. My grandmother worked in a medical institute. How I came to be in her care is unknown to me.
But what was supposed to be a few weeks stay in her foster care turned into a year.
A year later my mother married and it is then that I became my parent’s “son” and left the country 5 years later.
I am no longer interested in finding out who my real parents were or are. That is the past and I would not change anything about my life.
It is because I am a product of the loosely called foster program during the early years of Castro’s rise to power that I am so interested in joining your organization where I can make a difference in the lives of foster and immigrant children because I've been there. It is a personal devotion of sorts.
Any news will be welcomed as I know that I can make an impact and the opportunity of joining NTF now becomes an honor rather than just another job but I shall not continue to "harass" you any longer should I not be given the opportunity.
Please let me know at your convince since I have to pay the $60 reinstatement fee which I was in the process of doing when you called.
Sincerely and with respect,
Luis E Gonzalez"
Keep in mind that this is a result of my own personal experiences with a local branch of Neighbor to Family and in no way speaks of how the Organization as a whole deals with prospective employees.
The services that this organization provides to foster children, unaccompanied minors, their families and others are certainly worthy ones and everyone who cares about the plight of innocent children should endeavor to support them.
Here is the link to donate to Neighbor to Family should you wish to do so and help improve the life of a child somewhere.
Think that you have been the victim of unfair hiring practices? Then there are some things you can do:
- Contact your state's department of labor
- Contact the United States Department of Labor
- Contact your state's Better Business Bureau and follow up by contacting the National Better Business Bureau
- Hire a lawyer if you think you've got a good case
- Contact an organization which deals with the particular type of business as that of the employer. In the case of nonprofits you can also notify the National Council of Non Profits or better yet the National Charities Better Business Bureau which keeps statistics, reviews, and complaints issued against any local or national non profit organization.
- Let your voice be heard; post your complaints on social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn (this is one is particularly good), Reddit and Tumbler. The more you get your message across the better the chances that someone will get in touch and try to remedy the situation.
- If everything fails then consider taking out an add in a local newspaper or even a national one if you can. You will be surprised as to how much attention these can garner.
Private businesses are less likely to heed your complaints and yours is likely to be dismissed right away but the larger the business is the more likelihood that someone will reach out to you since no one wants bad press.
Non profits depend largely on state and federal dollars so in their case they take complaints that much more seriously.
It bears mentioning that laws may differ from state to state but Federal laws apply in all states. Your situation may not be suitable for legal action but at least you can get more information which may in turn lead to other sources of remedy.
Think that organizations should be able to play with the hopes and feelings of job seekers and without regard change their minds no matter how it will affect the individual ?
© 2016 Luis E Gonzalez