President-Elect Joe Biden Wants to End Subminimum Wage for People With Disabilities
What happened: On Thursday, Bloomberg Law reported that U.S. President-elect Joe Biden will seek to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour for all workers, including workers with disabilities. Currently, due to Section 14(c) under the Fair Labor Standards Act, companies can apply to pay disabled workers less than the current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
— Zack Budryk (@BudrykZack) January 15, 2021
The Frontlines: Disability activists and their allies have been fighting to end subminimum wage for people with disabilities for years. Subminimum wages are only part of the discrimination that disabled people face in the workforce.
- In September 2020, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights called for an end to subminimum wage in a report, saying that the program has been “inconsistent with the civil rights protections to which people with disabilities are entitled.”
- Six states have ended subminimum wage for disabled people or are in the process of phasing it out. These states include New Hampshire, Maryland, Alaska, Texas, Oregon and Nevada.
- The U.S. unemployment rate among disabled people was at 7.3% in 2019, nearly double the overall national unemployment rate of 3.7%.
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A Mighty Voice: Contributor Allison Boot explained why it is crucial to stand up against subminimum wage for disabled people. “Supporters of subminimum wage believe that working is what impacts self-esteem and not wages earned, so their wages do not matter. In a world where the housing and job markets are flooded with competition, and the majority of people with disabilities live in poverty, the idea that wages earned do not matter is absurd.” You can submit your first-person story, too
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Other Things to Know: People with disabilities often face discrimination in the workforce, whether it is through unfair pay or failure to get proper accommodations. Finding a job that suits a person’s needs is also not always that easy. To better understand some of the experiences of disabled people in the workforce or looking for a job, you can read these stories below:
- People With Down Syndrome and Other Disabilities Deserve a Fair Wage
- It’s Time to Talk About Epilepsy and Employment Discrimination
- Finding Employment When You Have Autism
How to Take Action: Whether or not subminimum wage is ended federally in the United States once Biden takes office, you can still contact your local representatives to explain why ending this discriminatory practice is important. You can find out who to contact for your state here.
Image via Wikimedia Commons/White House