Capitol Correspondence - 08.02.22

Landmark Case on Workers with Disabilities Comes to a Close Following End of Sheltered Workshops in Oregon

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The landmark court case Lane v. Brown officially came to a close on July 21 when U.S. Magistrate Judge John Acosta determined the state of Oregon had fully complied with a settlement agreement on workers with disabilities reached in 2015. The judge’s decision ends a decade-long legal fight for employment rights for people with disabilities.

In 2012, Disability Rights Oregon, United Cerebral Palsy of Oregon and Washington, and multiple named plaintiffs sued Oregon for allegedly violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by funding sheltered workshops and paying workers with disabilities subminimum wages.

The parties eventually reached a settlement agreement requiring the state to fulfill certain requirements by June 30 of this year. The new requirements affected two groups of people: (1) those working in sheltered workshops at the time and (2) people with I/DD aged 14 to 24 who are transitioning to work or higher education.

The state was required to stop funding all sheltered workshops and provide career planning to over 1,000 workers who wanted to find other employment. Oregon’s Department of Developmental Disabilities Services and the Oregon Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Services also were required to provide specialized job training and career planning services to people with disabilities who wanted to work.

Oregon completely shut down all sheltered workshops and helped 1,138 former workshop employees find other jobs ahead of the June deadline.