• Report: #424832
Complaint Review:

Work Opportunities Unlimited, WOU

  • Submitted: Mon, February 16, 2009
  • Updated: Mon, December 19, 2011

  • Reported By:Portland/Brunswick Maine
Work Opportunities Unlimited, WOU
Lancaster Street Portland, Maine U.S.A.

Work Opportunities Unlimited, WOU, Leddy Group Before Considering Using or Becoming Employed By WOU Read This: Portland Maine

*UPDATE Employee: Not true and quite unfair

*UPDATE Employee: If you have questions, please feel free to contact me

*UPDATE Employee: Service for Most Customers Is Great

*UPDATE Employee: Author is very accurate

*UPDATE Employee: Fabrication at best, libelous at worst

*UPDATE Employee: Some of these comments are not entirely accurate...

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This office was recently investigated by the US Department of Labor for violations of the Fair Labor Act. WOU does not allow its employees to take lunch breaks because it considers driving from work site to work site or to pickup or drop off "consumers" an adequate break. I am not sure of the outcome of this portion of the complaint but the DoL did get the company to compensate some employees for off-the-clock work required earlier in 2008. A small victory.

However, employees are continuously berated for not updating the company "Portal" while a client is with the Career Resources Specialist (CRS). It is not good for the client, especially those who are unable to understand what a CRS is doing in front of a computer. This practice does not enhance a client's ability to function optimally in the community.

The company also requires that CRS' make up billable hours lost due to inclement weather, illness (on the part of the client or the CRS), or other unforeseen circumstances. Clearly the company wants to make up for the lost revenue. It is impossible to fit in additional hours to "make up" for the lost revenue by having the client come in for services on days that the client isn't normally scheduled for or when the CRS already has other client obligations, such as work support.

This company also refuses to provide raises during the CRS' first year of employment. Even once a year is completed the CRS may not earn a raise. The management will state that the CRS did not update all records on the "Portal" despite the fact that the CRS simply did not 1) know due to a severe lack of training, 2) have enough time, or 3) think that updating a computer database with a client in tow was a good way to provide the client service.

The culture within this company is negative in the extreme. Even though new hires are told that everyone is "equal" during the orientation (indoctrination), this is not the case. It is hierarchical. It is male-dominated and directors frequently make CRS' and Job Developers feel like they are worth less than dirt.

The pressure to fit in many of the job requirements into billable hours has likely resulted in defrauding the state and federal governments. CRS' are frequently left between a rock and a hard place when attempting to complete all of the administrative work required by the job. WOU won't pay them to do the work if it can't be done with a client.

The community support service of this company is a total joke. It in no way enhances a client's ability to function in the community. It is a mish-mash of walking the local mall, attempts to get volunteer positions, visits to the library where they sit and page through magazines or hanging out in coffee shops. There is no formalized method for improving a client's reading or math abilities.

When there is a CRS training, clients are *required* to attend the training even though the training is frequently beyond their understanding and they sit around coloring or playing tic tac toe games with their CRS. The company puts a premium on billable hours. Playing games is not a service. Its make work for the client that just allows the company to bill the government while training its employees.

There is no room for advancement within this company whether you are hired as a CRS, Job Developer, Director or Manager. Upper management simply doesn't want to give up its high pay in the interest of its employees.

Portland/Brunswick, Maine

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 02/16/2009 06:36 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/work-opportunities-unlimited-wou/portland-maine-04101/work-opportunities-unlimited-wou-leddy-group-before-considering-using-or-becoming-employ-424832. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 UPDATE Employee

Not true and quite unfair

AUTHOR: Anonymous - ()

It sounds to me as though this is a second hand information, or inaccurate judgment by a disgruntled, former employee. I have worked for WOU for multiple years and find the climate to be supportive, caring, intelligent, labor-law abiding, and gratifying to boot. While all human services jobs are difficult, this particular company has a mission to create opportunities and lets its employees know of their successes and celebrates with them. These are good people.

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#2 UPDATE Employee

If you have questions, please feel free to contact me

AUTHOR: David Dwyer, Senior Vice President - (United States of America)

The negative postings here contain some accurate information and many inaccurate perceptions. Because of employee confidentiality restrictions, I am unable to address several of the inaccurate perceptions. I am proud to report that we have a very solid record with all state and federal labor departments and that our policies and procedures are legally compliant.

Our Company has hundreds of client and employee success stories on our website. Our many successful employees thrive on our pursuit of excellence and this year we will place more than 1,000 people into dream jobs. We have a unique, outcome-based work culture that focuses on the success of our clients and our work environment isnt for everyone. If you have any questions I would welcome you to contact me directly. 


David Dwyer
Senior Vice President
Work Opportunities Unlimited.
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#3 UPDATE Employee

Service for Most Customers Is Great

AUTHOR: Factfinder5 - (United States of America)

I am not sure if Maine is that much different than Massachusetts but you may want to at least separate that when submitting a report.

In Mass as a CRS for the past 2.5 years I have not seen any of the poor services that you are illustrating in your comments. Our services to our clients are far and above expectations.

We have no CRSs (of course that I am aware of) that sit idle on their computers while clients color or flip thru magazines. That is what happens in workshops and that is NOT what WOU (Work Opportunities) is about.

Example of some of the things we have done on our South Shore Team beyond on-site support: Hikes what does this provide to an individual with developmental delays? Not only does it build confidence, but mapping trails and having to make decisions on which rocks to use to get thru passages helps activate the critical thinking part of the brain.

Volunteer Activities: Libraries to work on reading and alphabet; Assisted Living homes delivering mail and group activities, again working on reading, alphabet and also leadership/self esteem; Homeless Shelter Day Care Group & Clothing Exchange. All activities are building skills that are transferable to the work force as well as providing our people with an opportunity to get involved in the community.

OK To be honest Growth potential, Pay, Paperwork and the all encumbering Portal [which for anyone applying to WOU or thinking of utilizing WOU services is the secured company database] may not be ideal for some, however it sounds like you may have run into a not so great director.

Our team has had the opportunity for bonus pay... we have received annual reviews opportunities for growth for individuals who work to their potential and exceed expectations and the Portal well, its actually pretty easy to use and manage the notes if you are organized. A good note should only take 5 minutes to write.

Any company has its ups and downs good people, managers, clients, vendors, etc but this report and information is just a bit of venting from one person, one office, with little support. And recently - would not be a 2008 report.

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#4 UPDATE Employee

Author is very accurate

AUTHOR: Langston55 - (United States of America)

I worked for this company for a few years myself and I can't deny any of the statements the author mentioned above. I wasted years of my life as a result and I am writing this to help prevent this happening to some of you out there.

We were not given lunch breaks and were expected to find a way to eat between 7:30-5 pm without billing for it. That way, the company makes their hourly rate for an 8 hour day per employee. That's just the beginning I'm afraid. They give out "bonuses" for getting someone a job, which sounds nice, until they hassle CRS's if they got the placement on their own. In other words, they try to haggle a way out of giving the bonus or by splitting them among several team members just to satisfy them and keep the morale high, which is already really low, they just don't care and figured directors/CRS's are ALL replacable.

Turnover rate is extremely high and I don't blame employees for quitting/being let go. Once the new CRS figures out what this company is all about, they soon quit or find another job. This company is constantly on the search for more employees because they figure they can offer someone a low hourly wage and make more money on the bottom line. There is no office, no overhead. They don't reimburse for computer use, travel, but they do offer very low reimbursement for cell phone (required for job) and very low gas reimbursement (.27/miles lol!). That should tell you a lot right there. And GL asking for more than that, they will tell you to go elsewhere and will ask you don't speak up about it again. Many quit just over this alone because they require you to drive A LOT.

This company is not a non-profit and is all about making money of people with disabilities, and that to me is the worst of it. The clients have no idea how they are used, manipulated, and lied to on a weekly basis because that's what management trains director's and CRS's to do. I really did like my clients, that was the best part of this job. The corprorate management do not want their jobs taken and want to make the most money out of each of their teams (broken up geographically). A couple of the regional managers are really greedy, and I've heard horror stories from the NE all the way down to the south.

The owner himself is a jerk and his daughter will soon be taking over and she doesn't have a clue on how to run it from what we've seen up here... and I've met the VP and heard about him from other states, bad guy. The VP of the company has a history of not promoting women from within and will turn on the most loyal employees in a heartbeat. He has fired more than he has hired and is always looking for ways to make more $, probably because he himself gets bonuses.He's been caught in lies and no one ever presses him on any of them. He knows what he and the company is doing is indeed fraudalent, in my opinion. I really hope somone looks into this guy as well as others.

It is also true they do not give raises, even to top earners of the CRS's/directors. I should know and ended up putting in my two weeks notice finding a much better job luckily. I feel bad for their employees, directors, and CRS's who are never rewarded, often punished. It is very true when the original author wrote, "The culture within this company is negative in the extreme." It's a dead end job unfortunately, and I'm positive they break laws across the country. How corporate never gets caught is beyond me, they are the real thieves in all of this in my opinion. If you happen to get promoted to a director position, which is almost unheard of, you will A) likely be a male and B) be fired within a year from everything I've seen. It's a very vulnerable position, so you really have no growth potential....Most CRS's know this and thus don't have desire to be a director. The smart ones end up finding another job. I hope this helps, I really do, please take our words for it, this company prey's on people with disabilities and its' employees! Find another social services job whatever you do!
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#5 UPDATE Employee

Fabrication at best, libelous at worst

AUTHOR: Prof Alan - (U.S.A.)

Report is full of fabrications, halftruths, etc. Many of the so called issues such as holidays are very specifically outlined as nine paid holidays a year.

And, I'm saying this as a bottom of the bottom food chain employee - seasonal on-call/part time.

Author mistates "issue" of lunch breaks. Employees are paid an eight hour day. If we eat lunch with or are involved with a client during the time we are eating, it is paid. If we want to take a lunch break - which is unpaid as it is for all hourly employees - we need just coordinate with other members of the team. Of course if you were working 8-4, you would the work 8-5.

Most clients are with us for 6 hours per day. 8 hour workday minus 6 hours with client leaves 2 hours for administrative work.

Pay scale is consistent with education and experience required by the job description. Some of us are "over-educated." That's my problem, not the company's.

I can't say enough about the flexible schedule. Of course that works both ways. I have worked holidays and weekends because I had to support a client at work. Oh, by the way, company policy is that if you work a holiday, you will get a day off within the same pay period!! Nothing wrong with that.

I could go on and on. The issue with clients sitting around - shame on the author for letting that happen. They sound like a disgruntled employee that was too lazy or dedicated or incompanent to do their job. Remember - we are there for the clients; the clients are not there for us.

WOU has ben one of the most enjoyable jobs I have had in my 30+ years of professional employment. Same goes for the team I work with - I have never felt so welcome on my first day in the job anyplace else. I have met both Joe Leddy and Steve Wood (president wou) and both are outstanding individuals.

'nuff said
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#6 UPDATE Employee

Some of these comments are not entirely accurate...

AUTHOR: A - (U.S.A.)

I have been employed with this company for nearly a year, and I would like to clarify some things stated in previous reports.

First and foremost, I would like to say that in my experience, at least in my office, clients are NEVER made to sit through our training sessions.

Job Developers DO exist. I know this because that is my job title. I work with individuals to develop their career interests, prepare for job search, and visit employers in the community to advocate for positions and learn about different career paths. I help with everything from the application process to the interview process, and then provide support on-the-job. My focus is primarily paid employment, and volunteer opportunities are secondary, found on a case-by-case basis. Our clients DO work real, paid jobs, and when they are not working, they volunteer or visit potential employment sites. If they are found walking in the mall, or visiting a library or coffee shop, it is most likely because they chose to go there during time that they were not scheduled to work. These individuals CAN and DO participate in decision making pertaining to their activities.

It is true we make every attempt to make up hours with a client, missed due to weather, illness, etc. We do this because we are CONTRACTED to provide a certain number of service hours to these individuals.

I do, however agree with certain observations in some of the previous posts. I have seen some employees of the highest calibur not receive what I would feel to be deserved raises after an annual review. I have known many people, including myself, to work some strange hours to accomplish objectives, and overtime is frowned upon. Our company does not want us to be working unpaid hours, off the clock. WOU has made it very clear that the corporate policy is that this should never ever happen, so they have made this more difficult to do. WOU has recently shut down our company email and "Portal" access between 5pm-7am every night, and every weekend from 5pm Friday night-7am Monday morning. We are still required to maintain our productivity and complete administrative tasks. This is Human Services, and EVERYTHING is documented, and checked regularly for compliance, just like every other vendor. We have a LOT of paperwork to do.

Finally, I am not pleased with the mileage allowance. I get a whopping $0.27/mile. When gas was $4/gallon, we were receiving a $0.32/mile, a two-cent raise from $0.30. When gas dropped to $1.50, the reimbursement went down five cents/mile. In short - not cool in anyone's book.

Overall, I like my job. I love what I am doing, and I do not plan on leaving Work Opportunities anytime soon. I do this job because I truly, deeply want to help people and yes- I take it personally. I take it home. This is Human Services, and I see certain undenyable truths-

1) You have to love it, or else you'll hate it.
2) The pay is never worth the heart
3) In order to be effective, it must be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
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