RALEIGH, NC – The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $38,891 in back wages for 55 adult employees with developmental disabilities after finding their Goldsboro non-profit employer had not renewed their federal certification to pay them subminimum wages but continued to do so.
Provisions in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act allow employers to pay a subminimum wage to workers with disabilities only if they also provide them with resources, such as career counseling and referrals and access to competitive integrated employment.
Investigators with the department’s Wage and Hour Division determined that Nova I.C. Inc. – a non-profit community center operator – allowed their certification to expire. In addition, the employer claimed to investigators that janitorial, cleaning, lawn services and clerical work that was performed by workers with disabilities was part of their education and rehabilitation program and not actual hours worked. Instead of paying them wages as required, the firm paid a bi-weekly allowance of $20 even though the same type of work was listed in their previous certificate as work.
The division also found the employer failed to maintain the pre-employment special minimum wage requirement for hiring workers under 24-years-old, and failed to provide records showing that all workers received specific career counseling, as the Fair Labor Standards Act requires.
“The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to making sure that workers receive all of their hard-earned, legal wages and that people with disabilities are protected from workplace exploitation,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Richard Blaylock in Raleigh, North Carolina. “Under federal law, employers who participate in these programs and employ workers with disabilities must fulfill their legal obligations.”
Headquartered in Goldsboro, Nova I.C. provides training and employment opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities. The center places its individuals in various trades such as lawn care, cleaning and maintenance at six residential homes in and around Goldsboro, Greenville and Warsaw.
The Wage and Hour Division provides multiple tools to help employers understand their responsibilities and offers confidential compliance assistance to anyone with questions about how to comply with the law. Workers can call the Wage and Hour Division confidentially with questions and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages. For information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, contact the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or visit the agency’s website.