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Goodwill denies minimum wage to disabled workers while executives make six figure salaries

Posted: July 17, 2013 |   Comments

( If you look on Goodwill's website, you can see their official mission stated as such: "Goodwill works to enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals and families by strengthening communities, eliminating barriers to opportunity, and helping people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work." This is in stark contrast to the way the company treats its employees.

Despite their noble claims, this international "nonprofit" organization recently came under scrutiny for exploiting persons with disabilites for cheap labor. While CEO Jim Gibbons made $729,000 in 2011 alone, Labor Department records show that some Goodwill workers in Pennsylvania earned wages as low as 22, 38 and 41 cents per hour that same year.

Disabled workers are routinely denied the right to minimum wage and are subjected to arbitrary "speed tests" where their performance is compared to nondisabled workers to determine how much they're worth. In 2012, Goodwill received over $16 million from the same federal government whose minimum wage laws don't apply, thanks to an outdated law passed in 1938. This law, known as Section 14 (c) allows employers to obtain special minimum wage certificates from the Department of Labor, legally removing the bottom wage limit for disabled employees.

Harold Leigland said he feels that Goodwill can pay him a low wage because the company knows he has few other places to go. "We are trapped," he said. "Everybody who works at Goodwill is trapped." Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, says the current system implies that "'Americans who have disabilities aren't as valuable as other people,' and that's wrong. These folks have value. We should recognize that value."

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