It's true, discrimination laws really do apply to all employers and for all disabilities. Sometimes stories of discrimination are so surprising because you wonder if these companies really think they can get away with it. But they usually get caught, even if they think those they're discriminating against wouldn't notice.
Henry's Turkey Service, a subsidiary of Texas-based Hill Country Farms Inc., was sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for discriminating against intellectually disabled workers at a plant in Iowa by grossly underpaying them. In its lawsuit, the EEOC claimed Henry's was exploiting disabled workers because their impairments made them vulnerable and unaware of the extent to which their rights were being violated. Now a federal judge has found that there was discrimination, awarding 32 workers $1.3 million in back pay.
How badly were these workers' rights being trampled?
For one thing, these folks were working on the "evisceration line." We can only imagine what happens there, probably ripping the guts out of slaughtered turkeys. The workers were paid a grand total of $65 per month, according to the EEOC. The average pay for workers in the same role is $11 to $12 per hour.
Needless to say, these workers were being paid well below average. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employers from discriminating against those with disabilities, for example by paying them less, firing them, demoting them, or engaging in other acts that treat disabled workers differently than others.
A lawsuit based on discrimination can result in payment of back wages, payment of any difference in wages (as happened here), and payment of interest on those wages, among other damages. If you are fired because of a disability, you could also sue to get your job back, if you want it.
Needless to say, employers have to pay all employees the proper wages, no matter their disability. If you are the subject of discrimination, or see it happening, speak up, because you have rights.
- Contact a Houston Employment Lawyer (FindLaw)
- Former CVS Employee Alleges Disability Discrimination (FindLaw's Houston Employment Law Blog)
- Secret U.S. Disability Rules Criticized by Business (FindLaw's Houston Employment Law Blog)