VIDEO: Bottom Dollars

“How would you like to work for two weeks, and come out with a $6 check?” That’s the reality for almost 250,000 Americans with disabilities who are paid below the minimum wage. Bottom Dollars exposes this exploitative system and offers solutions to end segregation and discrimination against workers with disabilities.

About the Film

When the Fair Labor Standards Act passed in 1938, it included a revolutionary civil rights protection: a minimum wage. American workers could no longer be exploited for their hard work – with one huge exception. Section 14(c) of the Act included an exemption allowing some workers, people with disabilities, to be paid less than minimum wage.

This provision was originally designed to persuade employers to hire people with disabilities and open up opportunities. Instead, people with disabilities were often employed in “sheltered workshops,” segregated workplaces away from their communities, earning sub-minimum wage.  Decades years later, 14(c) remains in effect.

In 2016, nearly 250,000 people are legally paid less than the minimum wage, on average, less than $2 an hour.  “Bottom Dollars” is an hour long documentary that exposes the exploitation of people with disabilities through personal stories and expert interviews. It also presents clear employment alternatives with competitive wages and community inclusion.

Do we want all people to have a shot at a job for fair pay in their own communities, or do we want some people to be separated, exploited and robbed of their chance to seize the American dream for themselves?


Discussion Guides

Bottom Dollars Discussion Guide – PDF version

Bottom Dollars Discussion Guide – Word version

Bottom Dollars Discussion Guide – Plain Text version

A free version of the Bottom Dollars documentary is available on our Bottom Dollars YouTube playlist. The playlist includes a promo and the full documentary split into individual chapters. Community members and organizations are welcome to screen this documentary for educational purposes, as long as participants are not charged an admittance fee.


Disability Rights Washington Reports

Hours That Count, November 2014


In the News


Film festival laurel that says, "OFFICIAL SELECTION, Workers Unite Festival, 2018"






Official Selection for the Workers Unite Film Festival, 2018


Official Selection for ReelAbilities Film Festival – New York, 2018
Film festival laurel - two olive branches surround text that reads Jury Prize Show Me Justice Film Festival 2017
Jury Prize, Show Me Justice Film Festival 2017
Official Selection - Festival Inclús 2017
Official Selection for Festival Inclús 2017
OFFICIAL SELECTION - Cinema On The Bayou Film Festival - 2017
Official Selection – Cinema On The Bayou Film Festival 2017
Film festival laurel - two olive branches around text that reads "Official Selection Reel Abilities Pittsburgh 2016
Official Selection – ReelAbilities Pittsburgh 2016


Main Characters

Download photo of Brendan Welch
Brendan Welch | Concord, NH
Download photo of Tillman Mitchell
Tillman Mitchell | Vicksburg, MS
Download photo of Gloria Marrero
Gloria Marrero | Rochester, NY
Download photo of Sara Frost
Sara Frost | South Hampton, NH
Download photo of Andy Owens
Andy Owens | Portland, OR
Download photo of Charles Biebl
Charles Biebl | Baltimore, MD
Download photo of Dexter Smith
Dexter Smith | Gallup, NM
Download photo of Hugh Bertolin
Hugh Bertolin | Olympia, WA
Download photo of Joe Steffy
Joe Steffy | Louisburg, KS
Download photo of Pamela Steward
Pamela Steward | Tiffin, OH
Download photo of Trust Jones
Trust Jones | Branson, MS
Download photo of Le'Ron Jackson
Le’Ron Jackson | Jackson, MS