Here at Nossa Familia, we deeply value openness and transparency, and want to share more information and our thoughts on a situation that was brought up yesterday on social media. An anonymous submission was posted on a public profile that names one of our current employees pointing to his previous criminal record and describing incidents alleged to have occurred before his time of employment with Nossa Familia. Since yesterday, I have had the chance to talk to this employee and members of our team about the situation. I’ve also had a chance to reflect on how this situation relates to our values and what we stand for as a company, and I want to share those thoughts with you, along with a statement directly from the named employee, Aaron.
We value cultivating an equitable and inclusive culture, and we believe in second chances. Aaron was honest and forthright with us from day one about his past and his status as a registered sex offender. He owned his past, and explained the steps he has taken to amend his mistakes. He has been with us for over 3 years now, and everyone who has worked with him, including my kids who help out occasionally, have come to appreciate his diligence, professionalism, hard work and kind spirit.
I am not here to apologize or make excuses for him, and in no way do I condone his past behavior. It’s his past and for him to deal with, learn, grow and work to redeem himself. He has informed me that many of the allegations in the social media post that was shared, outside of the sex offender status, are false. I can personally attest that Aaron applied for an open position, went through our interview process and was hired as the most qualified candidate for the role.
I believe in second chances, and more specifically I believe in “Second Chance” or “Fair Chance” hiring programs. I admire companies that employ those with a criminal record, helping reintegrate them to society. You can read more about the importance and success of such programs at the links to articles we’re sharing at the end of this post. I believe that this is an important piece of the puzzle in improving our criminal justice system, and I want Nossa Familia Coffee to be a part of this improvement in the world. The number one cause of reoffense & recidivism for those who have been convicted of a crime is lack of employment. I want Nossa Familia Coffee to be a positive force in improving this sad statistic and working against ostracism and stigma of those with criminal records.
We are also proud to be an employer in Portland where we have a progressive “ban the box” law — which means that an employer may not access or inquire about an applicant’s criminal history prior to making a conditional job offer. Under this law, we would be required to determine that a specific offense or conduct is job-related and denying employment is consistent with business necessity, which is not something we could have done in this situation. This law exists to remove barriers to employment for people with criminal histories and to smooth reintroduction of formerly incarcerated persons into community life, and we are glad that it is on the books.
At Nossa Familia I see our role as providing a safe and productive environment for all. We put the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff, customers and the community first. And as such we take any and all allegations seriously. We must also recognize and acknowledge the deep pain and trauma experienced by survivors of crimes, particularly those of a sexual nature, and we in no way want to minimize those experiences. We are not here to judge this employee’s (or anybody's) past, and I hope that Nossa Familia can be a source of good for Aaron's — and any employee’s — future. We expect solid work, we expect that everyone is drawn here because of our purpose and core-values and that their work here perpetuates these values. Rest assured that we would take swift and decisive action to address any conduct that is not in line with those values.
This person is an employee in good standing, and as such, my hope is that anyone who interacts with our company continues to treat him with the professionalism and respect that he has earned during his time here. If you have any questions, comments or concerns about this issue, I invite you to reach out to me directly at augusto at nossacoffee dot com.
Founder & Chief Friendship Officer of Nossa Familia
- Erasing the Stigma With 'Fair-Chance' Hiring - B the Change
- Out of Prison & Out of Work: Unemployment among formerly incarcerated people - Prison Policy Initiative
- For convicted felons, a career can be a second chance - The Oregonian
- Hiring discrimination and "Ban the Box" - Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries (BOLI)
*** TW: the rest of this post contains references to addiction, substance use & pornography ***
Personal Employee Statement from Aaron
Hello, I wanted to respond to the recent post on 86’d list PDX that discussed me, my actions, and Water Avenue Coffee.
First and foremost I do acknowledge that some of the information about me and my actions is correct. I was convicted of possession of sexually explicit material of a minor, and I did download the files that lead to that conviction. I am a recovering alcoholic and addict whose addiction included pornography. When I was using I downloaded sexually explicit materials from the internet indiscriminately to feed my addiction. As with most addictive behaviors it was progressive and it led me into some of the worst corners of the internet. In April of 2011 the Maine State Police visited me at my apartment in Portland, ME to confront me about these behaviors.
Having my deepest darkest, most shameful parts of myself and my life brought to light made me face them and the harm that I was doing. April 18th, 2011 was the last time I took a drink, used a drug, or used pornography. After that date I moved home to my family here in Portland, OR and sought treatment for my addictions through counselling, a sex offender treatment program, and participation in Alcoholics Anonymous. I don’t want to minimize the harms I caused through my actions and I know that it is certainly possible for me to relapse and reoffend but I’ve tried to put in the work to address the reasons I did so in the first place. I know that I will never be cured of my addictive behaviors I do think that it is a condition that with continued work can be managed. Since 2015 I have been in a stable relationship with my now wife.
In 2015 charges were filed as a result on the offences that took place in 2011. I traveled back to Maine to plead guilty and be accountable for my actions. I was sentenced to three years of probation, which I completed without incident in 2018. I was hired at Water Avenue Coffee in November of 2011 and as charges hadn’t been filed against me at that point I didn’t disclose that part of my life to them. At no point in my time there did I use pornography at work or in my personal life, I never masturbated at work, and at no point in time did the FBI come. I do not believe that the person described in the post as having violent and sexual outbursts towards co-workers and customers was meant to be me. They simply do not fit with every piece of feedback I have received about my actions and personality. At the same time I do want to leave space for the fact that I may have made someone uncomfortable. If that was the case I wish someone would have said something to me. I’m here to be accountable, it is a major part of the recovery process for me.
I left Water Avenue Coffee in March of 2017 to find a job with better work life balance. I interviewed for several jobs, and during that process I disclosed the same information that is here to any potential employers. I wanted to be fully transparent and honest with everyone. I was hired by Nossa Familia after I made them aware of my past because they knew me as the person I had become, not the harm I had caused in my past.
I’m indescribably grateful for the support I’ve received along the way. Without a robust support network and the ability to continually be held accountable I wouldn’t have been able to make the changes to my life and my behaviors that I have. I also know I can never fully make amends for the things I have done. All I can do is try and continue to grow as a person and make a positive impact in the world around me. I am far from a perfect person but I do my best to try and be a good one. To do so I have to be accountable for my actions and be open to hear the concerns of my community. I’m putting myself out there to hear those concerns.