Workforce flexibility shouldn’t mean bending over backward for a job

Job flexibility is a two-way street. It shows a willingness and ability to respond to changing circumstances, it’s a very good trait to have, but it shouldn’t be abused by your employer. 

There is a large number of working-class students at Georgia State. I run into so many students in my upper-level classes who are balancing at least two jobs just to make ends meet-on top of a full course load. As someone who is a full-time student and works two part-time jobs six days a week, I know it’s difficult, but when you have a child at home counting on you, you really need that extra income to provide for them and to make sure they have what they need.

Kenya Lemond is one student who found herself in such a predicament. She was a full-time student in search of a job to provide for herself and her son.  When she landed an interview with The Shopie, located within the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, she thought she’d found a solid source for extra income. 

The interview process was simple enough: She was interviewed by a woman named Lynda who wanted Lemond to be a member of her own team. Even better, Lemond was hired on the spot. No waiting by the phone or refreshing her email for an update, she walked out with a “yes.” 

“I informed her that I was in my second year of school and that I couldn’t work before a certain time due to classes,” Lemond said.

Lynda assured Lemond she would be the one to create her work schedule and Lemond would work around her school schedule in a way that she could still be a full-time student. That’s rare to find with employees outside the university since not every company wants to deal with an employee who is going to have a schedule that changes every five or six months.  

Lemond attends the Clarkson campus and made the trip to the airport for her shifts without an issue… until there was an issue. 

Things took a drastic turn when Travel Retail began looking to buy The Shopie. Suddenly, Lemond’s perfect schedule was changing daily.

“[The Shopie] began changing things day by day in order to suit what they thought [Travel Retail] would like from schedule details, down to where we were told to stand in the store,” Lemond said. “Everything was changed with force and in a very controlling manner.” 

Lemond went to Lynda and pleaded with her to fix the errors on her schedule as she was being asked to work the morning shift when she had to attend classes. This is the same Lynda who assured Lemond when she was hired that she would not only work around her class but would be creating that schedule herself. Instead, Lemond was taken off the schedule every day except for the one day that worked with her schedule.  

“This led me to having to decide if I was going to bow down and allow this company to take advantage of me in order to provide for my son and pay my bills or take another loss,” Lemond said. 

The whole situation was very traumatic and devastating for Lemond. She spent so much time trying to appease her job that she fell behind in her classes. Lemond was eventually dropped from her classes due to too many absences. Because of this, she no longer qualified for financial aid, and she had to pay for these classes out of her own pocket. 

“A situation that was supposed to benefit both the company and myself became nothing but a disaster for me financially, mentally and physically,” Lemond said. 

As students, we cram a lot into seven days: enough classes to be full time, part-time or full-time jobs and extracurricular activities. The last thing we need is to be taken advantage of when we’re just trying to survive. 

Editor’s Note: The names and locations have been changed to protect their privacy.