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Friday, June 21, 2013 - 10:05pm
El Paso, TX (KDBC) — Goodwill is under scrutiny after the Department of Labor revealed disabled workers are being paid as low as $0.22 an hour in Pennsylvania and less than $2.00 per hour in several other states.
Because of a loophole in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, this practice is legal; employers pay based on the disabled workers' abilities.
While that practice is under the microscope, that is not the case in El Paso.
Omar Arriaga, 22, has been working at the Goodwill Store on Montana for only one week, but he is already moving up in the company, as his work ethic and attention-to-detail is garnering much attention from management.
"He's a very good worker; he's concentrating on what he's gotta do with a good attitude," said David Carillo, Goodwill job coach.
The job is serving Arriaga well, as he is exploring new interests and his self-esteem is improving.
"They helped me to train and then they found me a job here," said Arriaga.
His job coach, Carillo, added, "I saw he was a real introvert, you know real shy. And as time passed, he gained confidence; he learned what he was doing and he was really good at what he was doing."
Arriaga recently graduated from the only Goodwill Training Center in a high school in the country - Riverside High School in El Paso.
"They learn cashiering - everything from hanging clothes, pricing them to maintenance to janitorial work. They get to learn the whole aspect of working at Goodwill," said Mark Huerta, Goodwill Community Relations.
Goodwill Stores in El Paso pay their employees the federal minimum wage or more.