There is an important law called the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Fair Labor Standards Act does helpful things for U.S. workers to make their lives better. One of the things the FLSA does is create a minimum wage. The minimum wage is the smallest amount that your boss is allowed to pay you for your work.
The Fair Labor Standards Act leaves out some people. This is because of a part of the law called Section 14(c). Section 14(c) lets businesses with a special piece of paper – called a 14(c) certificate – pay people with disabilities less than the minimum wage.
This is unfair. People doing the same job should get the same amount of money even if they have a disability. Some businesses that have 14(c) certificates segregate people with disabilities from people without disabilities. Segregated employment is bad for us. People in segregated jobs are often isolated from their communities and often make less money.
There are some laws that would stop businesses from paying people with disabilities less than the minimum wage.
Raise the Wage Act
The Raise the Wage Act is a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The minimum wage is $7.25 an hour right now.
$7.25 an hour is not enough money. Most people making that little have trouble:
- Buying food
- Buying essentials like toothpaste and toilet paper
- Keeping the electricity on
- Finding good daycare
The Raise the Wage Act also helps people with disabilities. It ends subminimum wage over time. By 2024, all people with disabilities would be making at least minimum wage. It also stops the government from allowing any more businesses to pay more people less than minimum wage.
People who get tips, like waiters and servers, also make less than minimum wage. Teenagers are also paid less than minimum wage for doing the same job as adults. The Raise the Wage Act would end these kinds of subminimum wage, too!
ASAN supports this law because it helps end subminimum wage. Contact your Members of Congress and tell them to vote “YES” on the Raise the Wage Act.
Transformation to Competitive Employment Act (TCEA)
The Transformation to Competitive Employment Act is a bill that would end subminimum wage and help states and companies do it.
Just like the Raise the Wage Act, the TCEA ends subminimum wage over time. By six years after the bill is passed, no person with a disability would be making subminimum wage.
The bill would give states and companies using Section 14(c) money if they make changes to support people with disabilities in real jobs instead. States that get a grant have six years to stop letting businesses pay less than minimum wage. They also have six years to change the businesses in their state so that they support people with disabilities in real jobs.
Companies that pay less than minimum wage can also get grants, if they are in states that do not have a grant. They have three years to change their policies.
The bill would also create a center, called a technical assistance center. It would help employers change how they work so that they can start paying more than subminimum wage. States that got a grant would have to create an advisory council to help them.
ASAN supports this law and has done campaigns for it. Contact your Members of Congress and tell them to vote “YES” on the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act.
State and Local Laws
Some states have laws which already end subminimum wage. Maryland, Alaska, and New Hampshire all have laws which say you can’t pay people less than minimum wage. Washington has a law that says state agencies can’t pay people subminimum wage.
A couple of cities have passed laws just like the states. Seattle, Washington and Reno, Nevada have laws that ban subminimum wage too. In these states, subminimum wage is still legal but not in the city.
Some states have bills waiting on a vote that would ban subminimum wage. These states are: Connecticut, Illinois, Montana, New York and North Carolina.
You can advocate for the end of subminimum wage in your state (if it is not over yet). Contact your Members of Congress and tell them you want people with disabilities to be paid a fair wage.
- Real Work for Real Pay: A Self Advocate’s Guide to Employment Policy
- #WorkWithUs For Integrated Employment
- ACTION ALERT: We have until June 21st to speak up for equal pay
- ASAN Celebrates Legislation to End Subminimum Wage
- You can contact your members of Congress by using this link and typing in your ZIP code: contactingcongress.org.