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Sterling Employment Law

EEOC files suit on behalf of disabled workers

Detroit residents may be interested in a case brought on in behalf of disabled plant workers. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit seeking to uphold employees' rights against a company that allegedly hired mentally disabled men to work in a turkey plant and subjected the workers to mental and physical abuse. The alleged behavior occurred for more than three decades, beginning in the 1970s.

The EEOC alleges that workers were paid only $65 per month, which works out to 41 cents per hour. The men reportedly did not receive any raises while working there. The EEOC claims that the company imposed discriminatory employment terms on the workers in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. For example, it is alleged that the men were denied bathroom breaks, required to work when ill and subjected to unwarranted punishments. 

A U.S. District court judge has already ordered the company to pay the 32 former workers back wages in the amount of $1.37 million, finding that the company deducted more than was allowed to pay for the employees' living expenses. An attorney representing the company did not respond to a request for comment.

Even in an at-will state, workers have rights. Employers are required by law to make reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities. All non-exempt employees have a right to be paid at least the minimum wage for hours worked and overtime where applicable. Any workers who believe themselves to be the victim of unlawful discrimination or other illegal behavior on the part of an employer may benefit from speaking with an employment law attorney who may be able to seek compensation for the employees' injuries.

Source: WVTM.com, "EEOC seeks damages for disabled Iowa plant workers," Ryan J. Foley, April 22, 2013 

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