[Nfbmo] FW: [rehab] Pedro's Story: When Given the Chance, People with Disabilities Can Overcome Barriers to the American Dream, U.S. DOJ "The Justice Blog, " January 31 2014

Shelia Wright sbwright95 at att.net
Sat Feb 1 01:57:05 UTC 2014

This is why we are opposed to subminimal wages. Pedro is not an exception.
Rhode Island is not so very different from Missouri. We in the Federation
have known many disabled persons who have been trapped by low expectations
and lack of opportunity.

HR 831 phases out section 14-C over a three year period. First it must pass.
Urge your congressmen and Senators to supportthe Fair Wages For Persons With
Disability and to remove Section 511 from the Reauthorization of WIA.


-----Original Message-----
From: rehab [mailto:rehab-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Nightingale, Noel
Sent: Friday, January 31, 2014 4:40 PM
To: rehab at nfbnet.org
Subject: [rehab] Pedro's Story: When Given the Chance, People with
Disabilities Can Overcome Barriers to the American Dream, U.S. DOJ "The
Justice Blog, " January 31 2014


Pedro's Story: When Given the Chance, People with Disabilities Can Overcome
Barriers to the American Dream January 31st, 2014 Posted by The Department
Of Justice This post is courtesy of Eve Hill, Deputy Assistant Attorney
General for Civil Rights

Every day, countless Americans with disabilities are excluded from accessing
important ladders of opportunity.  The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
is an important tool for challenging assumptions and discrimination that
trap people with disabilities in poverty and segregation.  When given the
chance, people with disabilities are establishing their rightful place in
the greater American workforce and the middle class, and are showing that
they, too, can achieve the American Dream.  Pedro is one such person.

When Pedro graduated high school in 2010, at age 21, he found himself at
home with no job prospects and no career direction.  A native Spanish
speaker with intellectual disabilities, Pedro's education had not prepared
him to enter the general workforce; instead, he was headed for a life of
segregated employment and below-minimum wages.

Pedro attended a Providence, R.I., high school where students with
intellectual disabilities participated in an in-school "sheltered workshop,"
where there were no students without disabilities.  The students spent their
school days sorting, assembling and packaging items such as jewelry and
pin-back buttons, earning between 50 cents and $2 per hour for their labor.
Rather than providing the education and services needed to help them
transition into regular jobs, the school prepared students for segregated,
below-minimum-wage work in adult sheltered workshops.  The U.S. Department
of Justice's 2013 investigation of Rhode Island found that, indeed, the
school-based workshop was a direct pipeline to a nearby adult workshop.

Like many before him, Pedro began working at the adult workshop after high
school.  Staff described Pedro as an excellent worker who stays on task and
performs well, but he was paid just 48 cents an hour.  And because people
who enter this workshop often stay there for decades, and are rarely offered
help to move into community-oriented jobs, Pedro's career outlook was dim.

That all changed in June 2013 when the department entered into an interim
settlement agreement with the state of Rhode Island and the city of
Providence, requiring the state and city to provide the employment services
necessary to help workers at the adult workshop and students at the
school-based workshop move into integrated, competitive-wage jobs.  At the
same time, the Providence Public School District closed the school-based
workshop so students with disabilities can focus on education and career

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (the
agency) announced that it has entered into a settlement agreement with the
City of Providence, the Providence School Board and Pedro's former high
school after the agency's investigation found violations of the Fair Labor
Standards Act.  Under the agreement, students will receive back pay for the
work they did at the sheltered workshop.

Pedro was interested in the restaurant industry, so in 2013 he joined a
culinary arts training program and 12 weeks later, helped by federal and
state services, Pedro began working in the kitchen at a restaurant in the
community.  He has excelled and forged strong working relationships with
other employees.  Pedro says that he loves his job.

The owner of the company describes Pedro as the heart of the business.  "He
has a great personality and loves working here," he says.  "But more than
just a personality, he does a great job."

In December 2013, just a few months after starting at the restaurant, Pedro
was Employee of the Month.   His manager said that Pedro was chosen for the
award because "he has changed the culture of the company by inspiring
everyone around him to reach higher; he has led by example."  Pedro has
become known for his positive work ethic and his commitment to teamwork.

Pedro started his job with a  job coach, funded by the state and federal
government, but because the restaurant position was such a good match for
Pedro and natural supports developed so quickly, Pedro no longer needs
coaching, and is now helping the coach train other new employees with

Pedro deeply values his new job, where he has the chance to work with peers
without disabilities, earn a competitive wage and employee benefits and
enjoy the advantages of community employment.  His supervisor points out
that the company, too, has experienced major benefits.  She describes the
strong sense of pride in hiring Pedro, and giving him the opportunity to
realize his capabilities and participate in the greater American workforce:
"It's a very fulfilling experience to see Pedro mainstream himself, to show
responsibility and to see him getting an honest wage for his work."

Pedro's life is on a new path - and there's no looking back.

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