“Federal jury in Iowa awards $240 million to the 32 mentally disabled adults” was the headline from the Des Moines Register a few months ago.
The National Disability Rights Network, is the nonprofit membership organization for the Protection and Advocacy System for Individuals with disabilities produced a paper “Segregated and Exploited – A call to Action!” that used as a case study the atrocities that occurred at Henry’s Turkey Service in Atalissa, Iowa. The story of the workers at Henry’s Turkey Service, a meat processing plant in Iowa, is an appalling example of the abuse that can happen when workers with disabilities are segregated and sheltered away from others. Henry’s “shipped in” 60 men from Texas where they worked and lived in the company run bunkhouse. Henry’s paid them an average of $.41 an hour and the individuals also had to pay for their room and board at the bunkhouse – leaving them with only $65 at the end of the month.
The bunkhouse was a 106 year-old cockroach infested, unheated abandoned school converted to a bunkhouse that had boarded up windows and a cracked foundations. The residents paid $600 per month in rent for use of the tax-free bunkhouse.
“I’m very pleased the jury made such a powerful statement,” said Ruby Moore, a national disability rights advocate based in Georgia. “People around the country are absolutely aware of this case. It has unveiled some of the horrendous practices faced by people with disabilities.”
The same can happen in the workplace. Sheltered workshops are just another institution segregating our neighbors away because of our unwillingness to accept that our own preconceived ideas about the workplace might be wrong. It’s time to do things differently.”
CEO Viewpoint is published by Jim Larson, CEO Morningside
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