UK Happenings

UK HDI Hosting Free Screening of 'Bottom Dollars' Documentary in Somerset

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 25, 2017) — The University of Kentucky Human Development Institute will host a free screening of the film "Bottom Dollars," a Rooted in Rights original documentary, at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 27. This free public event will occur at The Center for Rural Development in Somerset, Kentucky, and is presented by the UK Human Development Institute, the Commonwealth Council on Developmental Disabilities and Kentucky Protection and Advocacy (P&A).

This film exposes the exploitation of nearly 250,000 people with disabilities in the U.S. who are legally being paid less than the minimum wage. The documentary calls for the phase-out of the unfair practices of subminimum wages and sheltered workshops, and offers solutions for fair wages and inclusive employment.

Following the premiere, there will be panel discussion exploring alternatives to segregated employment and unfair wages. Panelists will include Katie Wolf-Whaley, director of Kentucky Supported Employment Project; Jordon Melongrana, director of "Bottom Dollars"; Lissette Johnson, member of KY P&A’s Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities (PADD) Advisory Board; Cheryl Bates-Harris, National Disability Rights Network’s senior disability advocacy specialist; and Jeff Edwards, director of Kentucky P&A.

“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 looking at the needs of workers and start focusing on giving workers with disabilities the basic protection of a minimum wage.

The documentary features personal stories and interviews with advocates that have been working on improving the employment opportunities for people with disabilities. 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.

“I, along with 20 other individuals with disabilities, did the same work day in and day out with no opportunity to grow or be valued as an actual employee,” said Lisette Johnson, former employee of a sheltered workshop who has worked in a competitive, integrated employment setting for the last few years. “Community employment opens doors for people with disabilities to be seen for their capabilities.”

A trailer for the film is available for preview at

Contact Elaine Eisenbaum at or 859-257-6086 for more details.

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