FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
National Federation of the Blind Applauds Ruling
Requiring Equal Pay for Disabled Workers
$1.3 Million in Back Pay and Other Damages Awarded
Baltimore, Maryland (September 20, 2012): The National Federation of the Blind, the nation’s leading advocate for fair wages for workers with disabilities, today applauded a recent ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, Davenport Division, finding that a turkey processing service violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by paying its disabled employees less than federal and state minimum wages. The ruling in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Hill Country Farms, Inc. d/b/a Henry’s Turkey Services (Case number: No. 3-11-cv-41-CRW-TJS) found that the defendant had “engaged in unlawful and discriminatory pay practices in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” and awarded the workers $1.3 million in back pay and other damages.
Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “We have long contended that the antiquated practice of paying workers with disabilities less than the minimum wage is discriminatory and out of step with the enlightened view of the capacity of workers with disabilities reflected in statutes like the Americans with Disabilities Act. For this reason, we are calling for the repeal of Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which, based on the fallacy that workers with disabilities are not productive, authorizes the payment of subminimum wages to workers with disabilities. This ruling, in a case with facts that ought to shock the conscience of every American, makes it clear that a labor practice dating from the 1930s is fundamentally irreconcilable with modern laws prohibiting discrimination against workers with disabilities. We hope that the United States Congress will soon update the nation’s statutes by phasing out Section 14(c) so that no employer can ever again engage in such unconscionable discrimination.”