RI companies to support ADA settlement

Gregg's Restaurants is one of 17 companies in Rhode Island willing to give workers with intellectual or developmental disabilities a chance.

So far the company has hired two workers as part of Rhode Island's landmark Americans with Disabilities Act settlement, including Pedro Ebe.

NBC 10 caught up with Ebe in Providence during a press conference Tuesday about an effort to help 2,000 workers like him get jobs in the real world.

He normally is washing dishes here in the back of the restaurant.

There are federal subsidies to help companies train workers with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

However, Gregg's says Ebe and other workers undergo the same interviewing process as all employees.

"We were willing to work with him a little while and see if it worked and it did," said Laureen Grebien of Gregg's Restaurants. "He really works with his whole heart and soul when he comes to work and you could just see that in the interview process."

Before the settlement, the state would make workers with intellectual or developmental disabilities work at sheltered workshops.

The state now promises to give those same people the tools to try and find work elsewhere, and guarantees them a fair wage.

"More money and I like it," Ebe said.

"This is a civil rights issue and we believe ... individuals will be able to obtain employment consistent with the individual's capabilities, strengths and preferences," stated Deborah Varga in an email.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee says there is $800,000 set aside for the first year of this program. However, the total cost is still unknown.