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Oregon Faces Suit Over Disabled Work Programs

The state of Oregon is facing a lawsuit filed Wednesday claiming work programs for disabled people illegally segregate and underpay them.

The class action lawsuit claims the state is providing the wrong employment service to 2300 Oregonians.

It says the state should provide support so that developmentally disabled adults can earn at least minimum wage working a regular job.

Instead, it claims the state funds segregated workshops for disabled people.

Michael Bailey with the National Disability Rights Network says even though this is the first suit like it in the country, Oregon is not the worst offender.

Bailey says Oregon provided more appropriate services, 20 years ago.  “This is not a situation like some states, where they’d have to create this program from whole cloth. All they’d have to do is reallocate their resources into a community-integrated placement.”

Oregon’s Department of Justice says it’s starting a stakeholder process this week to tackle issues facing people with disabilities. The DOJ says two groups involved in the lawsuit have been invited to take part.

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