Thursday, August 21, 2014

Some Groups That Pay Disabled Pennyslvania Workers Below Minimum Wage Not Complying With Law

The U.S. Department of Labor has ordered Pennsylvania organizations to pay $118,000 in back wages to workers with disabilities since 2011, according to records PublicSource obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

At the heart of these investigations are people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, many of whom cannot advocate for themselves.

The workers already were earning far below minimum wage because the employers have a special license to pay people with disabilities less.

There is very little oversight on the state or national level of these employers, making it  impossible to know how widespread the pay issues are and whether they are accidental or intentional.

Over nearly four years, the labor department has conducted only 29 investigations in the state, primarily of nonprofits that were granted a federal license to pay ‘special minimum wages’ to workers whose productivity is affected by a disability.

There are currently 126 organizations in the state with the license. About 13,000 disabled Pennsylvanians earn an average of $2.40 an hour in these subminimum-wage work programs, according to a PublicSource analysis of federal labor documents.

The audits resulted in orders for 17 organizations to pay back wages to 1,193 employees, including non-disabled employees in some cases.

Two organizations — Growth Horizons in Bucks County, and Greene Arc in Greene County — were investigated twice in the time period. The inquiries were concluded after the groups agreed to pay back wages and promised future compliance.

The Greene Arc was ordered to pay more back wages than any other group, owing more than $40,000 after a 2013 investigation found that the nonprofit did not use the appropriate standard for setting wages for the workers.

The investigation also found that Greene Arc was deducting the allowed 15-minute breaks from the employees' overall hours worked.

Disabled workers at Greene Arc were earning an average of $3.59 an hour for shredding, food preparation, recycling and greenhouse work, according to its 2012-14 application.

Cynthia Dias, executive director of Greene Arc, said she could not comment on the findings of the investigation because she was traveling.

Full Article and Source:
Some Groups That Pay Disabled Workers Below Minimum Wage Not Complying With Law

See Also:
CLICK to see list of groups ordered to pay back wages

Thousands of Disabled Workers in Pennsylvania Paid Far Below Minimum Wage


Thelma said...

It's not need driven; it's greed driven.

Anonymous said...

These people who are given a "special wage" are truly "special"!

While those that run these places are traveling at the expense of these "special people"!

Where are the checks and balances? Seems something is out of whack here!

I am surprised that CLASS of Pittsburgh is not on this list!

StandUp said...

I'm glad to see this exposed.

Anonymous said...

And let's not forget Jenny Hatch, who was forced by her Virginia public guardianship program, Jewish Family Service of Tidewater, to work at a sub-minimum wage in a boring job she didn't want.

Meanwhile, an interesting above minimum wage job at a thrift shop that she had previously held for five years was just waiting for her, while she was held incommunicado in a group home against her will.

It took a whole year, six days of unnecessary trial, multi-national press coverage, and international outrage for the Virginia court to finally listen to Jenny Hatch and let her have her old house, her old job, and her chosen family back.