Autistic Applebee's cook to receive first paycheck after year of work

The restaurant chain has agreed to issue Caleb Dyl a check for 480 hours worth of previously unpaid work, after his family alerted a local news station to the story.

After working at an Applebee’s restaurant in Rhode Island three days a week for about year, Caleb Dyl, a 21-year-old autistic man, is finally going to receive his first paycheck.

Mr. Dyl started work as a part-time prep-cook at the restaurant in August 2014. Resources for Human Development (RHD), a state-funded social service agency, helped place him in the job.

Dyl completed a training program at the restaurant without pay before he was scheduled to start receiving minimum wage last August. But his parents say he was never paid.

Dyl’s father, Bob, told WPRI that he helped his son fill out the proper paperwork at least twice last year. Still, no checks – and that went on for months.

“It wasn’t about money for him, though,” his father told WPRI, a local news station in Providence. “He liked working there. So we went to RHD a number of times and expected the problem to be taken care of.”

Eleanor Clancy, a New England regional director of operations for the Applebee’s chain, told WPRI that the restaurant has agreed to pay Dyl for 480 hours after his parents argued that’s how many he worked. Applebee’s officials initially agreed to pay him for 166 hours, based on RHD’s records.

Meanwhile, the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Development Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH) says it is investigating the incident.

“We need to talk to them to have a better idea of what they did,” said Charles Williams, BHDDH’s director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities, told WPRI. “It’s clear what they didn’t do at this point but we need to know what they did and pretty much what they knew. 

Applebee’s isn’t the first company accused of underpaying its disabled workers. The US Department of Labor reports that workers with disabilities are often paid less than minimum wage. The practice, which is permitted under US labor laws, has drawn criticism from the public.

In 2013, a string of news reports revealed that Goodwill had been paying some of its disabled employees far less than minimum wage. The non-profit organization had reportedly paid workers in Pennsylvania as little as 22 cents, 38 cents, and 41 cents an hour, according to Labor Department documents obtained by NBC, sparking outrage from the public.

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

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