Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Contratados: A Yelp To Help Migrant Workers Fight Fraud

A storytelling tool built by MIT's Center for Civic Media is the backbone of the site, which helps protect migrant workers from fraud and abuse.

By Steven Melendez, Fast Company
October 9, 2014

Every year, more than 100,000 Mexican migrant workers are recruited to travel to the United States on temporary employment visas (and many more arrive unofficially). They find themselves with little ability to research whether promised wages and working conditions will actually be delivered. In some cases, fake job recruiters even collect application fees from prospective workers, only to disappear without a trace.

“These prospective migrant workers have a great necessity to get work in the U.S.,” says Sarah Farr, a project coordinator with Centro de los Derechos del Migrante or CDM. “There’s really no information available to them that allows them to verify if this is a real job offer or not.”

To help level the playing field, CDM created Contratados, a platform launched last week to let migrant workers share Yelp-style ratings and reviews of their experiences with different recruiters and employers.

The idea evolved out of a Facebook page run by a fraudulent recruitment agency. The agency had been routed out, but scam victims reappropriated the comments section to share information about their experiences with other employers and recruiting agencies.

“This Facebook page had since been abandoned by whoever had been administrating it and had since been used as a community bulletin board where workers were sharing information,” says Farr.[...]

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