ROCKVILLE, Md., Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Goodwill Industries legally can pay disabled workers far less than the minimum wage while some of its executives earn six figures, officials said.
A loophole in the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act allows the national charity, a non-profit organization based in Rockville, Md.,, to pay workers as little as 3 cents per hour, NBC News reported.
The U.S. Department of Labor discovered that a Goodwill franchise in Fairfield, Ohio, in 2008 paid a worker merely 3 cents per hour for hanging clothes, NBC News said.
"The results of your FOIA request reinforce that people with disabilities are devalued in this situation and the operators of these programs are not keeping pace with the times," said Clyde Terry of the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency that counsels Congress and the White House and Congress on disability policy.
NBC News reported Goodwill's figures show that nationally, the average hourly wage for affected employees is $7.47 an hour.
Goodwill Industries International spokesperson Lauren Lawson, said, "The low wages you have referenced are extraordinary situations. For example, sometimes an employee will work for a few minutes but then stop producing for the rest of the shift because of an emotional or behavioral issue. Unlike a typical employer, Goodwill does not dismiss an employee in such situations."
"The organization's work program is meant to provide the most significantly disabled individuals in our community with work that will either lead to competitive employment; or for those where this may not be possible, to enjoy the many personal, social and economic benefits of working," said Dan Buron, executive director of Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Michigan, which, in 2010, paid a worker 6 cents per hour.
"These leaders are having a great impact in terms of new solutions, innovation, and job creation," said Goodwill International CEO Jim Gibbons Gibbons.
Gibbons' salary and deferred compensation amounted to $729,000 in 2011, the CEO of Goodwill Industries of Southern California got $1.1 million and the Portland, Oregon top executive received more than $500,000, NBC reported.