STERLING, Ill. (KWQC) - UPDATE: In a statement issued by Sterling's Mayor Skip Lee,
"Self Help Enterprises has a long distinguished history of service to the Sterling area. They provide educational and occupational opportunities to many people. Their services have also been of great benefit to the local industries who need labor of a very specific skill set. Their clients not only have the opportunity to work but from that are able to reap the physical and mental benefits which come from the ability to live with dignity.
My knowledge of the issues involving Self Help Enterprises and the federal government are limited to what I read in this morning's paper. I was surprised as everyone that issues existed. I am confident, given its history, that Self Help's Board of Directors and administration will do all in their power to take care of the issues so their focus can return to continuing their history of devotion to their clients and our communities."
In a statement issued by Self Help, ""Self Help has been a productive agency serving the developmentally disabled workforce for 54 years. We are proud of the services that we offer and the community, family, that we have created for our workforce. . We are obviously disappointed in the decision made by the United State Department of Labor, disagreeing with this outcome, but will take all necessary steps to comply with the decision as we pursue our available options to have the matter duly reviewed."
ORIGINAL: According to the United States Department of Labor, investigators found that nearly 250 workers with disabilities are being improperly paid by Rock River Valley Self Help Enterprises in Sterling.
The department revoked the company's certificate after finding out those workers were being exploited.
The department's Wage and Hour Division's (WHD) investigation found a "failure to timely perform appropriate wage surveys and failure to conduct proper time studies on all jobs performed by workers with disabilities." Officials say there were times on weekends that workers would be unlawfully paid with gift cards and not wages.
“The Department of Labor is committed to protecting Americans with disabilities from exploitation in the workplace,” said Ruben Rosalez, Acting Regional Administrator. “When employers violate federal law and obstruct investigators, we take decisive action to protect vulnerable workers, their families, and other employers who play by the rules.”