Disabled Workers Cheated Out of Proper Pay - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

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Disabled Workers Cheated Out of Proper Pay

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by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis

mcurtis@abc6.com

Developmentally disabled people who work and train at the Birch School in Providence, and at TTP (Training Through Placement) in North Providence, will be treated better in the future.

This after a federal investigation found that dozens of intellectually disabled workers were paid anywhere from just 14 cents to $2 dollars per hour.

Eve Hill of the U.S. Department of Justice said, "These people were robbed of years of productivity, learning and contributing to their communities."

The disabled employees did tasks such as shrink wrapping remote controls, or packaging jewelry, but still could have been paid the minimum wage of $7 dolllars-25 cents per hour.

ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, "State and Providence School officials say changes have already been here at the Birch School and elsewhere to prevent these kinds of abuses from ever happening again."

The Birch School is run by the Providence School Committee, to teach the developmentally disabled.

It's located at Mount Pleasant High School.

While today's legal action was a civil case, no one is saying if those who ran the programs will be charged.

Peter Neronha, the U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island said, "I think I'll just leave it at that. We don't comment on whether there is, or isn't a criminal investigation."

Regardless, advocates for the disabled say this is a huge win for their clients.

Attorney Ann Mulready from the Rhode Island Disability Law Center said, "It is incredibly critical, as we heard today, about the minuscule wages that people were making."

Workers, who were shortchanged, could receive back wages for many years of services.

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