Goodwill Industries pays thousands of workers with disabilities less than minimum wage by exploiting a provision in the Fair Labor Standards Act left over from the 1930s. Sec 14 (c) allows corporations to pay people with disabilities a subminimum wage. According to Labor Department records, Goodwill pays some of its disabled workers as low as 22, 38 and 41 cents per hour. This is wrong: disabled workers at Goodwill deserve to be paid a living wage.
It’s not well known that Goodwill is a multibillion-dollar company whose executives make six-figure salaries. They don’t need to pay disabled people subminimum wages when salaries for the CEOs Goodwill franchises across America total more than $30 million.
Sheilia and Harold Leigland are two examples of disabled Goodwill workers who are paid less than minimum wage for their work. Both are blind and work at Goodwill in Montana hanging clothes. Sheila worked there for four years at about $3.50 an hour but was forced to quit when Goodwill lowered her pay to $2.75. Harold still works there and says Goodwill pays him less because they know he doesn’t have many other options: "We are trapped," he said.
It’s time to start paying disabled people a fair wage and Goodwill can take the lead by paying their disabled workers the minimum wage.