For years, disability advocates have been protesting against companies giving people with disabilities lower than minimum wage.
A new bill is being introduced in both chambers of Congress to prohibit what has come to be known as subminimum wage.
Since 1930, places of work have been allowed to obtain 14 (c) certificates from the Department of Labor, enabling them to pay people with disabilities less than minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour. Workers, who are paid at a lower rate, are supposed to be compensated, based upon their productivity level, compared to that of someone without a disability.
The bill will call for the end of 14 (c) certificates and existing certificates would be phased out over a 6-year period. It will also vow to assist businesses that currently pay subminimum wage to transition to a more competitive and integrated fashion of employing people with disabilities.
“Although we have made progress, there are still far too many people who aren’t able to fully realize the American dream because of outdated laws and social stigmas,” said Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., who introduced the measure, along with Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va.
The bill comes on the heels of legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, while some people with disabilities are earning just pennies per hour.
On the flip side of that penny, however, are families who believe that people with severe disabilities benefit from having a sense of purpose, while being in an environment, around their peers, despite what they make.
Casey has also introduced the Disability Employment Incentive Act, which would increase three existing tax credits available to employers, who hire people with disabilities or businesses that make their locations more accessible.