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Employment law: Disabled workers underpaid for Oscars work

Movie fans in Wisconsin might be fascinated with the behind-the-scenes process of awards shows like the Oscars, but some workers say that it is not as glamorous as it might seem. A nonprofit is suing a company that employed workers with disabilities to assemble the highly-coveted swag bags for both the Oscars and the Grammys. They alleged that Adelante -- the plaintiff -- violated employment law by paying unfair and unreasonably low wages for its workers.

The U.S. Congress first created the national minimum wage back in 1938, but that wage does not necessarily apply to everyone. Companies who hire workers with disabilities are generally allowed to pay them hourly wages that are far below the national minimum. However, to do this, the employer must apply for a waiver and include information about how a specific worker's disability slows down his or her performance. Approximately 150,000 workers were affected by these waivers in 2018.

Adelante allegedly paid its workers between 18 cents and $1.82 an hour. According to the nonprofit's lawsuit, the company not only employed workers with disabilities in segregated areas where they were required to perform repetitive tasks without any chance of advancement, but they also never applied for the waivers. The suit also accuses the company of making tremendous profits through underpaying its staff, receiving compensation from the state for employing workers with disabilities and additional subsidies for its employee housing.

Workers in Wisconsin deserve to be fairly compensated for their time and effort. When a company violates employment law by purposely underpaying its employees, victims can pursue legal action. While the process might seem daunting at first, recovering lost wages and other damages can sometimes be essential for securing financial security.

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