Tampa pastor cleared of labor law violations in unpaid stadium job case

Tom Atchison, who you’ll remember as the “faith-based recovery program” director accused of illegally sending his substance-abuse clients to run stadium concessions for no pay as part of a job training program, writes to point out that a federal Department of Labor investigation cleared him of the “illegal” part last month. And he includes a (partly redacted) DoL report on the matter, if you want to read it yourself.

This is good news for Atchison, obviously, since it means his model of funding his programs by having people in recovery work stadium jobs and have the payments go to fund his overhead — something he says he copied from the Salvation Army — is officially sanctioned as legit. It’s less certainly good news for the people in his New Beginnings programs, depending on whether you see having them work jobs and have their residence director cash the resulting checks is a valuable way to ease them back into the work world, or a way to exploit their free labor to pay the program’s bills. Either way, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Rays ended their relationship with New Beginnings after the controversy arose — presumably less because they were concerned it was illegal than because they were concerned it looked skeevy — so we can leave any future coverage of the matter to other worthy sites.

One comment on “Tampa pastor cleared of labor law violations in unpaid stadium job case

  1. Labor laws in this area are so full of holes you could drive a Mack truck through it. Ever wonder how Goodwill gets away with paying some of its employees pennies on the dollar and yet still be legal? Read federal labor law. The fact that it may be (technically) legal does not make it ethical, nor a good example of best practices.

    As someone whose been a manager at a homeless shelter it is not uncommon for day labor places and others to solicit business amongst the homeless. That’s as old as hobos riding the rails. But there is a big difference between a company talking to clients or wanting to advertise opportunities/positions and actually being the boss and contractor as the shelter itself. And our transitional housing program did have a nominal monthly rent, but again, the individual actually paid us, and we didn’t simply take their Social Security checks and cash them an action that is often only allowed in situations where one is an organizational payee or a community based residential facility.