Minnesota Nonprofit to Reform Hiring Practices in Major Disability Rights Settlement

In a case that could open doors for thousands of Minnesotans with disabilities, a large disability services provider has settled a state human rights charge and agreed to give its workers a shot at regular jobs. Opportunity Partners, a Minnetonka-based nonprofit, has for years classified individuals with disabilities who labor in its facilities as “clients” or “persons served,” even though they perform actual work for pay and may aspire to be considered regular employees.

Many of these individuals are paid less than the minimum wage. In a settlement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, Opportunity Partners has agreed to change its hiring practices so that the roughly 2,000 individuals it serves will have the chance for regular work at a competitive wage. The nonprofit did not admit wrongdoing, but said it will make it clear that anyone who receives job supports or other services will be considered for employment, regardless of their disability or status as a recipient of disability services. “This changes the paradigm,” state Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey said in an interview. “The more people say it out loud; that all people should have the opportunity for gainful employment…the more individuals who make the decisions on hiring will be open to actually hiring individuals with disabilities.” National advocates praised the settlement, saying it resolves one of the first legal challenges to a system of disability employment that has long been decried as discriminatory.

Source/more: Minneapolis Star Tribune

 

David Wingate is an elder law attorney at the Elder Law Office of David Wingate, LLC. The elder law office services clients with powers of attorneys, living wills, Wills, Trusts, Medicaid and asset protection. The Elder Law office has locations in Frederick and Montgomery Counties, Maryland.

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