[nfbwatlk] Oregonian Article Relevant to our Fight for Fair Wages for Disabled

Mike Freeman k7uij at panix.com
Fri Jan 27 03:17:30 UTC 2012

I obviously think those involved in the lawsuit are morally correct.
However, I think the suit will be thrown out in that I do not believe either
ADA or the Rehab Act as amended have been violated. One might have a better
chance basing such a suit on the Fourteenth Amendment.


-----Original Message-----
From: nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On
Behalf Of Prows, Bennett (HHS/OCR)
Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2012 1:33 PM
To: NFB of Washington Talk Mailing List; NFB of Oregon mailing list
Cc: blindlaw at nfbnet.org
Subject: [nfbwatlk] Oregonian Article Relevant to our Fight for Fair Wages
for Disabled

The following article was sent to me by my brother in Portland.  We can
certainly use this in are arsenal to help our legislation on repealing 514


Bennett Prows

Home<http://www.oregonlive.com> > Politics &
Oregonians with disabilities file class action suit against the governor,
state officials
Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2012, 10:05 PM     Updated: Thursday,
January 26, 2012,
[cid:image001.jpg at 01CCDC2E.81D94D10]Doug Beghtel/The OregonianProject

Grow provides a program for developmentally disabled adults as an
alternative to traditional piece work. This 2009 photo featured a project
combining art and framing.
The United Cerebral Palsy Association of Oregon and Southwest Washington
along with eight individuals representing thousands of Oregonians with
intellectual or physical disabilities filed a class action
Wednesday against Gov. John Kitzhaber <http://gov.oregonlive.com/governor/>
and top managers at the Department of Human

Advocates hope the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Portland, will
set a national precedent and end the practice of having people with
disabilities to spend their days in "sheltered workshops," where they
complete repetitive or rote tasks for a sub-minimum wage and without the
opportunity for training or advancement.

At any given time, according to the lawsuit, more than 2,300 Oregonians are
"stuck in long-term, dead-end, facility based sheltered workshops that offer
virtually no interaction with non-disabled peers."

This group of workers includes 48-year-old Paula Lane, who has an
intellectual disability, autism and an anxiety disorder. In March 2000, Lane
began working at a sheltered workshop in Beaverton where, according to the
lawsuit, she spends her time working on an assembly line in a large room
with more than 100 others. Her current tasks include putting parts into
boxes, folding bags, packaging gloves and putting bits into slots in a tool

"The worksite is segregated, crowded and distracting," the lawsuit claims.
Between February 2010 and March 2011, the highest amount Lane earned was
$53.66 for 81 hours in September 2010. The lowest was $26.82 for 66 hours in
March 2010, or approximately 40 cents an hour.

Lane has received high marks for her work, according to papers filed in
court, and she has repeatedly asked the state's vocational agency for help
finding an outside job. She likes to spend money on pizza parties and had
wanted to attend a country music concert, however lawyers note that she
"cannot afford to participate in as many community activities."

"Ms. Lane believes she can work competitively and would like the opportunity
to do so."

The lawsuit argues that confining people in segregated workshops violates
the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

The state of Oregon currently spends $30 million a year on sheltered
workshops for people with disabilities. Over time it would be much cheaper
for taxpayers and better for individuals for the state to fund programs that
help people with disabilities work in jobs that pay minimum wage or better,
said Bob Joondeph, executive director of Disability Rights
Oregon<http://www.disabilityrightsoregon.org/> and an attorney for the

Last August, advocates sent a letter to Human Services director Erinn
Kelley-Siel asking that the state take steps to help people with
disabilities find and keep real jobs.  On Tuesday, The Oregonian requested a
copy of the response under the state's public records law. Human Services
spokesman Gene Evans said he could not comment.

Advocates tried to "negotiate a way to avoid filing the case," Joondeph
said, "but we were not successful."

--Michelle Cole<mailto:mcole at oregonian.com>

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