On June 29, the Department of Justice (DOJ) sent a letter to Oregon's attorney general reporting the findings of a nine-month investigation into the state's programs offering employment and vocational services for its workers with disabilities. DOJ found that too many people in Oregon are being forced into "sheltered workshops," where they work in sub-minimum wage jobs performing rote tasks, and are segregated from the general population.
Federal law requires that services provided to people with disabilities give individuals the opportunity to live and work in the most community-integrated setting possible. More than half of the workers studied in the investigation were paid less than $3 an hour, with an average wage of $3.72. Additionally, 1,642 people worked in sheltered workshops, while only 422 workers were employed in the community with appropriate supports.
DOJ did not give Oregon a deadline with which to improve its programs in light of these findings, but urges in the letter that the state "swiftly address the areas that require attention."