In some states, there are various kinds of illegitimate work training programs that essentially try to get free labor out of workers in exchange for various promises that are never fulfilled. The entities running these programs may be sued by labor attorneys and investigated by the government.
An incident in the state of Delaware involved workers who were exploited and essentially used as free labor by a carpentry and construction apprentice program. Vulnerable populations of men who were recently released from prison were the primary targets.
Carpenter training program forced workers to labor without pay
The Interfaith Community Housing of Delaware’s Homeworks Program sounded like a legitimate source of training to those who were in desperate need of jobs. Many men who had worked in unskilled manual labor jobs thought that the program would give them master carpenter credentials, and help them earn more money in the future with legitimate certifications. However, most of their alleged class time was essentially unpaid labor on job sites.
The program was marketed as a 16 week pre-apprenticeship. At the completion of the program, workers would earn a carpentry certification that would help them command higher wages and land better jobs. This program was divided between classroom time and various forms of on the job training. The state even awarded a grant of over $100,000 to get the program running in its first year. The project’s director also received a hefty salary.
Most men who ended up working in the program were African American and had prior criminal records. They started to become suspicious when they found that their “classroom training” consisted almost entirely of renovating properties that the administrators of the program were planning on reselling for a profit. The director of Interfaith Community Housing claims that the group did nothing wrong, although several accusations have piled up from men who believe that they have been exploited. Participants claim that they were supposed to receive $10 an hour for any actual work on job sites, but because much of the classroom time that was supposed to focus on regulations and mathematics ended up being at job sites, it is difficult to determine exactly how much they were owed.
One suspicious project included work on an employee of Interfaith’s personal home. Other jobs that raised serious questions were basic jobs boarding up and securing properties that were about to be sold.
The company may be sued under Delaware’s Workplace fraud act, as it is illegal to miscategorize workers in attempts to avoid proper pay and other state labor regulations.
Get help from a local employment lawyer
There are attorneys in Delaware who help mistreated workers with all kinds of claims related to discrimination, improper pay, and similar workplace issues. Use the directory on USAttorneys.com to find a lawyer near you.