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Lola Gonzalez Laid Herself off to Save Her Employees' Jobs

lola_gonzalez
In the photo above: Lola Gonzalez,
Devereux Kids employee

A recent article of the USA Today website talks about a Devereux Kids employee who placed herself last to help save the jobs of her own employees.

The article states,: Like countless small-business owners, Lola Gonzalez agonizingly resolved to trim her firm's nine-person staff when the economic recovery began to sputter last spring. Unlike other entrepreneurs, she picked an unlikely employee to lay off: herself.

The owner of Accurate Background Check in Ocala says she could not bear to fire employees who have worked there for years. Therefore, she stopped paying herself a six-figure salary and got a job for less than half the pay as a social worker.

"How could you let somebody go that you trusted and that trusted you?" says Gonzalez, 51, who is still a social worker. "We have one of the highest unemployment rates (14.3%) in the state." Gonzalez's employees say they are particularly grateful this holiday season for her generosity. "I thank her for her kindness and for having a job," says Lydia Estremera, 45, who has worked at the company as a research specialist for six years.

Gonzalez says business began to falter in 2008 when a fifth of her customers did not pay their bills and few new ones were signing on. After reviewing her books one weekend last March, her husband, Marcos, told her she had to reduce her payroll by one. Gonzalez called employees to a meeting Monday and said, "I want you all to know I have to lay somebody off and it's been a very difficult decision. And that person is me."

"I thought it was a typically selfless act on her part," says Eric Johnson, 53, who handles the firm's quality assurance. Gonzalez says her reasoning was simple. Although she runs the business, recruits clients and handles payroll, "Employees are the ones who are doing the legwork."

Sure enough, after delivering the news, she promptly walked across the street to the courthouse and got a lead for a job as a social worker for a non-profit called Devereux Kids. Besides putting in a 40-hour week at Devereux, Gonzalez gets twice-daily phone updates on goings-on at her business and still does certain background checks herself without being paid. Gonzalez says she enjoys her social-worker job...

Business at Accurate Background Check has picked up a bit recently, but Gonzalez says she has no plans to return to work there until the economy is on more solid footing, perhaps in a year. Her employees, however, will get Christmas bonuses. "It is a token of my appreciation for all the struggles we've gone through," she says.

To learn more about Devereux Kids and the compassionate individuals who are part of the organization, please visit www.devereuxfl.org

To read this article online, visit http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/employment/2010-11-25- boss-saves-jobs_N.htm