Do People with Disabilities Deserve a Fair Wage?

Photo of man in wheelchairThe 14c provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act allows some employers to get a waiver to pay people with disabilities less than minimum wage. This was a part of the New Deal and it was designed to get more people jobs during the Great Depression, but over the years it has become something else. Through rewrites and other incremental changes, 14c has become an excuse to pay people with disabilities substandard wages.

Who Would Pay Their Employees Substandard Wages?

In 2012, thousands protested Goodwill Industries. It seems that the charitable organization was using 14c exemptions to pay some employees with disabilities less than one dollar an hour. This scandal rallied many disability rights advocates. They claim that substandard wages and sheltered work programs are holding back people who could otherwise participate in their local workforces. Their cries of protest didn’t go unnoticed.

People with Disabilities Deserve a Fair Wage

The head of a sheltered workshop in Mississippi broke ranks and recommended helping his clients get normal jobs in the community. He teamed up with a local employer and transported people with disabilities to the employer’s job site where they worked among other workers. The results saw those workers with disabilities become respected in their community, and it proved that their work was just as valuable as anyone else. It also proved how much underpaying and segregating workers with disabilities hurts their development.

Advocates are now campaigning to end federal funding to sheltered workshops. They are also trying to phase out 14c with the Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment Act. This would allow more people with disabilities to join the mainstream workforce, which could help to change the lives of many people who didn’t think they would ever be able to get a job because of a disability.

Do you think the efforts of disability rights advocates will succeed? Do you have ideas about how to help people with disabilities achieve a fair wage? Share your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter. You can also learn more about disability rights and helping people with disabilities make ends meet by following our Tulsa disability attorneys on our blog.


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