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Sterling Employment Law

Goodwill pays as little as 22 cents per hour

Anyone who lives or works in Michigan may be interested in reports involving Goodwill. Some supporters of employee rights were outraged when the non-profit organization was reported to pay disabled employees hourly wages significantly below the mandatory minimum wage. Some employees earned less than one dollar for every hour worked, with a reported low of twenty-two cents. Meanwhile, many executives working for the organization have salaries in the six figures.

In 1938, Congress passed the Special Wage Certificate Program to encourage employers to hire disabled workers. The law permits non-profit organizations and charities to obtain certificates that allow them to pay disabled workers based on the person's abilities, rather than following the minimum wage laws. The program does not set a minimum wage for eligible employees. Goodwill sets employees' pay through a review process that does assessments every six months. The tests look at the employees' productivity and other factors to determine a wage thought to be appropriate. This review process follows Department of Labor regulations.

Other employers also utilize the certificate program. A spokesperson for Goodwill stated that it provides an opportunity for disabled workers who otherwise would not be able to obtain a job at all. Goodwill also provides transportation and an opportunity for community socialization to disabled workers.

Workers have rights guaranteed to them by federal law. An employee that does not fall within an exception is entitled to be paid at least the minimum wage for all hours worked and time and a half for hours exceeding 40 in one work week. When an employer fails to follow these standards, an employment law attorney may be able to help recover lost wages due to affected employees.

Source: Huffington Post, "Some Disabled Goodwill Workers Earn As Little As 22 Cents An Hour As Execs Earn Six Figures: Report", Jillian Berman, June 21, 2013

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