New Documentary Exposes Exploitation of People with Disabilities in the Workplace

October 3, 2016
New Documentary Exposes Exploitation of People with Disabilities in the Workplace

Bottom Dollars to Premiere in Washington, DC

For Immediate Release         
October 3, 2016

Contact: David Card
202.408.9514 x122
[email protected]

WASHINGTON – Bottom Dollars, a Rooted in Rights original documentary, will make its world premiere on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on October 11. The documentary will be presented by the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) and Rooted in Rights.

Bottom Dollars exposes the exploitation of nearly 250,000 people with disabilities in the U.S. that are legally being paid less than the minimum wage, on average, less than $2 an hour. The documentary calls for the phase out of this unfair practice of sub-minimum wages and sheltered workshops, and offers solutions for fair wages and inclusive employment.

Bottom Dollars will premiere on Tuesday, October 11 at 2 p.m. EST at the Rayburn House Office Building in the Gold Room, #2168, 45 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20515. Following the premiere, Bottom Dollars Director and Producer Jordan Melograna will join disability advocacy specialists and cast members from the film on a panel to discuss the issues and explore alternatives to segregated employment and unfair wages.

“Investigations by the National Disability Rights Network have found that hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities are being segregated and financially exploited in the workplace due to unfair and antiquated labor laws,” said NDRN Executive Director Curt Decker. “In this important documentary, we hear in their own words how this outdated practice harms workers with disabilities and keeps them from reaching their full potential. Their stories are a reminder that we must continue working to end segregated work and the sub-minimum wage.”

“Now is the time to end this antiquated and downright insulting exception to minimum wage laws,” said David Carlson, Executive Producer of Bottom Dollars and Director of Legal Advocacy at Disability Rights Washington. “The exception was written in a bygone era, long before children with disabilities were allowed to go to school to get an education and marketable skills, long before state and federal anti-discrimination laws protected employees with disabilities from discrimination, and long ‎before multiple state and federal programs were created to support people with disabilities secure and keep meaningful employment. Nothing short of fully repealing this exception is acceptable and I hope this film helps people see how flawed the assumptions underlying this exception are.”

The goal of Bottom Dollars is to empower advocates and policymakers to provide workers with disabilities the basic protection of a minimum wage.

The documentary features personal stories and expert interviews from around the country. Expert appearances include the National Disability Rights Network’s Senior Disability Advocacy Specialist Cheryl Bates-Harris, National Federation of the Blind President Mark Riccobono and Director of Advocacy of the Center for Disability Rights Stephanie Woodward, among others.

“Working in an integrated setting opens up people minds about people with disabilities and what they can do,” said Le’Ron Jackson who used to work in a sheltered workshop, “For me, it has been life changing because I feel like I’m a part of society and the working American public versus when I was in the workshop, I felt like a nobody.”

A trailer for the film is available for preview at For a full list of people and organizations that made this documentary possible, please visit

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The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and the Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities. Collectively, the Network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States.