Teresa Garratty: The perils of work

Posted on September 27, 2012



It’s not easy finding work these days and for us Deaf folk it’s not just the recession that’s made things tricky.

Any job involving a telephone or “good communication skills” seems to be an instant no no and those jobs which a deaf person is perfectly physically capable of doing are still hard to come by due to lack of other people’s awareness. A deaf person? In the office?! With normal people?! Are you mad?!

So you can imagine my relief when I stumbled across a job advert for a brand-new Deaf media company.

Could it be?! At last! A real opportunity to get an actual long term job and in the industry that I’d trained for! If my tea hadn’t gone cold, I would have sworn it was a dream.

After checking that I hadn’t completely taken leave of my senses, I sent off my CV and application.

I got an interview, score!

I went to the interview and was offered a job, double score!

I signed the initial employment contract and officially became a filming assistant. My first day on the job required the use of my car, with expenses covered of course, so at 8am I drove my boss and other crew members all the way to Northampton. We were filming at a race track all day. I was the 2nd camera person and fulfilled my duties by capturing footage of the cars as they went hurtling by.

We eventually finished for the day and I began the long drive back to base. I clocked off at around 8pm and made my way home. I was exhausted but pleased with my hard days work.

Yet that was my first and last day with this company.

Not only was I never paid for the work I did that day, my “boss” also didn’t cover the cost of using my car for travel. Technically, it had actually cost me to work for him. For free. Crap.

At first I thought it was personal. Maybe he was one of these “Deaf elitist” types who didn’t like me because I wasn’t born deaf and could only sign “Hello, where is the toilet?”

But on investigating further, I found that he has done this to numerous members of the Deaf community and there are a lot of Deaf people out there who are less than happy with him. If only I’d known sooner!

I have since enforced a County Court Judgement against this man (which again, cost more money) and reported him to UK Action Fraud, as well as the Metropolitan Police, but this still feels extremely unsatisfying, justice wise.

All I’m left with is the dear sweet Limping Chicken as an outlet for my burning rage. I’m writing this in the hope that A) he will crawl back under his rock never to be seen again and B) it will not happen to another poor unfortunate soul, hoping to find a decent job.

What’s the world coming to when people, who should know better, leave you worse off than before? One of “your own” for goodness sake!

It’s hard enough trying to build up work confidence without scum bags like this around, so beware good people! It’s not just Hearies you have to watch out for, unfortunately sometimes you have to look out for Deaf people, too.

Now that paranoia and low self esteem have subsided, to a manageable degree, I’m off to job search again.

I wonder how much it will cost me this time….?

If you have had a similar experience and wish to report it, please visit Action Fraud: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/

The Citizens Advice Bureau may also be able to help: http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/

The Limping Chicken is supported by Deaf media company Remark!, provider of sign language services Deaf Umbrella, the Deaf training and consultancy Deafworks, the RAD Deaf Law Centre, and BID’s upcoming 5th anniversary performance by Ramesh Meyyappan on 12th October – don’t miss it!

The Limping Chicken is the UK’s deaf blogs and news website, and is the world’s most popular deaf blog. It is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.

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