Goodwill worker holding bag of items next to door caption 'when you realize Goodwill pays it's employees under $3/hr and donates only 12.5% of their profits to charity' (l) Goodwill tag on shirts on rack (c) Goodwill employee exiting through door backwards holding bag of items caption'when you realize Goodwill pays it's employees under $3/hr and donates only 12.5% of their profits to charity' (r)

ZikG/Shutterstock @bodemia/TikTok (Licensed)

‘Hands down the worst place i’ve ever worked’: TikToker’s video on ‘why you shouldn’t donate to Goodwill’ has workers chiming in

'When you realize Goodwill pays its disabled employees under $3/hr.'


Braden Bjella

Internet Culture

Posted on Jun 2, 2022

A TikToker went viral this week after calling out resale chain Goodwill for its alleged business practices.

The TikTok, posted by user Lana (@bodemia), shows her exiting the store, with text overlaying the video explaining her aversion to shopping there and donating her clothes to the chain. The video has sparked intense discussion and debate, with many alleged former Goodwill employees chiming in to share their experiences working for the company.

Lana’s video currently has over 5.8 million views.

@bodemia why you shouldn’t donate to Goodwill❗️ #thriftstore #goodwill #boycottgoodwill #resellercommunity #thriftwithlana #salvationarmy #thrifttok #fyp ♬ Welcome To Duloc – Hope Levy & Jill Bogard

“When you realize Goodwill pays its disabled employees under $3/hr and donates only 12.5% of their profits to charity,” Lana wrote in the text overlaying the video.

A provision in the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) of 1938 gives employers the right to pay employees with disabilities less than minimum wage, per Forbes. An article in the Colorado Springs Business Journal notes that, while Goodwill states that a large amount of its workers with disabilities are paid above the minimum wage, some make as little as $1.44 per hour.

This practice has long been controversial. When this provision was being debated in Congress in the 1960s, Goodwill Industries of Wisconsin, Inc. wrote a letter to the government saying that raising wages for those with disabilities would be “unrealistic” and “a drain on the economy,” as quoted by Vox. The same letter also claimed that raising wages for those with disabilities would “create an additional drain on the economy of the country.”

While wages for workers with disabilities have increased over time, they can still frequently be below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The above-referenced Forbes story references a blind Goodwill employee who was threatened with a salary cut to $2.75 per hour. The same story also notes that a New York-based Applebees paid workers with disabilities “$3.97 and $5.96 an hour in 2010, with a New York-based Barnes & Noble paying workers with disabilities “between $3.80 and $4.85 an hour.”

As for the donation claims, this appears to be false. CharityWatch notes that Goodwill spends 87% of its budget on charitable programs. These include “job training, employment placement services and other community-based programs for people who have disabilities, lack education or job experience, or face employment challenges,” per Snopes.

Returning to the TikTok, some commenters claimed that the CEO makes several million dollars annually. Per CharityWatch, this is incorrect; CEO Steven C. Preston makes $469,247, while the next two highest-earning employees, Chief Member Advancement Officer Brian Itzkowitz and  COO David Eagles, make $375,919 and $318,747 respectively.

Still, there was enough correct information in the original TikTok to set users off, with many commenters sharing their own Goodwill employment experiences.

“I worked for goodwill for a brief time last year and it was hands down the worst place i’ve ever worked,” one user claimed.

“I worked at [Goodwill}…My boss would rather throw away hundreds of good shoes than lower the prices,” a second alleged. “So much went to waste when it could’ve gone to people.”

“I work at Goodwill currently. The amount of stuff that is thrown away in the compactor just because it’s not deemed ‘sellable’ is very concerning,” another alleged.

Instead of donating clothing to Goodwill, many users suggested alternatives.

“Dont donate to thrift stores cuz its just gonna be scalped,” a commenter urged. “Donate it to shelters who are actually gonna use your donations.”

“ALWAYS donate to LOCAL thrift stores. Our local humane society has one and they appreciate the donations so much,” another pleaded.

Furthermore, many users reminded commenters that legally low wages have been a long-time complaint of the disability community.

“Everybody surprised like the disabled community hasn’t been talking about wage inequality for decades,” one user wrote.

The Daily Dot reached out to Goodwill via a contact form and Lana via TikTok comment.

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*First Published: Jun 2, 2022, 9:21 am CDT