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State Sued Over Low Pay Scale for Caregivers

May 11, 2000

LOS ANGELES — A local nonprofit agency has filed a lawsuit in federal district court accusing four state agencies of setting up a pay scale that makes it nearly impossible to attract and keep workers who care for people with developmental disabilities in small, community-based facilities.

The Autism Society of Los Angeles and other agencies that represent people with developmental disabilities are suing the state departments of Health and Human Services, Developmental Disabilities, Health Services and Finance to close an alleged wage gap.

People who work in private group homes, nonprofit agencies and other small care agencies earn much less than workers at state institutions, said Max Lapertosa, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, who filed suit in San Francisco federal district court last week.

Frank Paradise, executive director for the Autism Society of Los Angeles, said it is unacceptable for entry-level caregivers in community-based organizations to earn the same wage as someone who works at a fast-food restaurant.

The lawsuit was filed in federal district court because attorneys believe the wage gap violates the Americans With Disabilities Act. Other plaintiffs include the United Cerebral Palsy Assns. of California, the California Rehabilitation Assn. and several Easter Seals chapters.

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