How can I protect myself from unscrupulous employers?
(does and don’ts on the job.)
when we use the word “protect” in the workplace, it’s not always about protecting our jobs, our reputation, or our co-workers. it can actually be protecting yourself from an unscrupulous employer. i know this sounds crazy, but yes, they are out there. in the onion fields, pine straw sites, construction sites and any other day job or unskilled labor our people do to provide for their families.
in my 28 years of living and working in georgia, i have encountered many instances wtare hard working folks are taken advantage of by some unscrupulous employer. a hard day at work deserves what is earned. for some workers that is not the case.
joaquin worked for “el moyo” setting block on a construction site for 5 days. he worked hard to impress “el moyo” in hopes of securing a permanent job. he was promised $125.00 a day for a 10 hour workday. on friday “el moyo” dropped him off at his home and told him he was going to the bank and would later return to pay him. joaquin never saw him again. he went to a local community advocate group to get help finding “el moyo”, no one knew of him.
this is a common scenario. this is an actual case. joaquin never recuperated his earnings and more than likely never will. the following are some do’s and dont’s of working.
there are many simple things you can do to protect yourself from being cheated in the work place. one of the main things is to introduce yourself to your employer and allow him to introduce himself to you. if he doesn’t, ask him his name and remember to get the following information:
• do ask for a business card. if a business card is not available!
• do ask for a contact number
• do get the full name of the business
• do get an address
• do ask your rate of pay
• do understand your job duties
• do keep pay stubs, financial records, and/or pay envelopes with pay information on them.
• do have someone else with you to serve as a witness about the verbal agreement, if you cannot obtain a contract or job pay statement
• do know you have rights no matter your legal status.
if you do discover that someone has cheated you, report the crime to your local law enforcement officials ask for a police report of the robbery for further action. have a trained interpreter that is competent and can explain in detail what actually happened to you and is willing to advocate for your cause. tell your friends and neighbors about the person so they can be aware of his practices.
*don’t be satisfied with a nickname introduction “ el guerro” / “el pulga”
this is the first sign of someone who will take you for a ride and leave you stranded. if the employer is offended by you asking his real name, run, he is not worth your time.
• don’t begin work if you are not clear about your duties and pay. if you have already worked a week and the employer gives you the run around, don’t continue working! if he won’t pay you the first week what makes you think he will pay you the next week.
• don’t feel intimidated by bullies who threaten you by calling ice.
just because you are undocumented does not mean that others have a right to cheat you out of your hard earned money and remember if he does call ice, he is just in as much trouble as you are because he hired you.
• don’t listen to “el chisme en la calle” about your rights! this is your hard earned money.
don’t be too trusting
do not be afraid to report any wrongdoing to the authorities. if you can give authorities a license plate number, telephone number or an address this will help your case even more.
. every community has ombudsmen and persons who can help you. in lyons, it is the southeast ga.
communities project that has already improved and empowered the lives of thousands. we are here to serve the communities around us. for the past 15 years we have served as interpreters, liaisons, advocates and friends of our clients. everyone deserves to be treated with respect and paid for their work. sometimes a simple phone call will suffice; unfortunately some cases have to be referred to the department of labor, georgia legal services or small claims court so they can be resolved. in any case protect yourself. for more information on services provided by southeast georgia communities project inc. call 912-526-5451.