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Today’s Des Moines Register reports that very few employers who are found guilty of violating the special Federal Minimum Wage laws, applicable to disabled workers, are actually fined as a result of their violations.
The report disclosed that, “[t]he U.S. government fined only three of the 797 employers that violated federal labor laws while paying subminimum wages to disabled workers over a five-year period.
The newly disclosed statistics come from the U.S. Department of Labor and are in response to questions posed nine months ago by U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Ia.
Harkin has been studying the enforcement of a 71-year-old federal law that enables companies to pay disabled workers less than the minimum wage if they first obtain federal approval.
Harkin chaired a Senate committee hearing that examined why Henry’s Turkey Service was allowed to pay its mentally retarded workers 41 cents an hour to work in a turkey processing plant in West Liberty.
Critics say the new statistics confirm what they have long alleged: Companies typically have nothing to lose by violating wage-and-hour laws intended to protect disabled workers.
Harkin said Monday that there is ‘no question’ the law currently fails to provide the disabled with ‘fair employment opportunities that are sufficiently policed to prevent exploitation.’
He said he is preparing ‘substantial legislative changes’ that he expects to make public in the next few months.”
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