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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sheltered Workshops in Oregon

The Oregonian reports:
Oregon unlawfully segregates people with disabilities in sheltered workshops instead of providing them more work opportunities in the public midst, federal authorities allege.

In a news conference Monday, officials with the U.S. Justice Department said they have joined a class-action lawsuit filed by people with disabilities against Gov. John Kitzhaber and the state of Oregon last year, demanding changes to the sheltered workshop system

Lane v. Kitzhaber was so named because it pits Paula Lane, who earned as little as 40 cents an hour in a sheltered workshop in Beaverton, against Gov. John Kitzhaber as Oregon's chief executive. The lawsuit aims to provide workshop laborers such as Lane, who has multiple disabilities including autism, with job coaches and other professional supports so that they can work at regular jobs in the public midst, said Bob Joondeph, executive director of Disability Rights Oregon.
As it stands, he said, the majority of working Oregonians with serious disabilities find themselves segregated into workshop settings. They often toil in jobs for nonprofits that pay poorly and sometimes give participants practice work when there are no jobs for them to do.
Oregon has not developed adequate services to offer people a chance to work outside the workshops, Joondeph said.
"A person cannot choose to use a service," he said, "that is not made available to them."