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Bill would phase out subminimum wages


Last updated 4/8/2021 at 10:58am

WASHINGTON, D.C. – An Eastern Washington congresswoman is co-sponsoring a bill to help workers with disabilities get the training they need to be gainfully employed.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, partnered with Rep. Bobby Scott, R-Virginia, in introducing the Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act.

If passed and signed into law, McMorris Rodgers said it would provide states and other agencies with resources to help handicapped individuals get training while also phasing out subminimum wages, which are allowed under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, over a five-year period.

“Disability employment is the next policy frontier to empower people with disabilities to live full and independent lives,” McMorris Rodgers said. “A job is so much more than just a paycheck. It’s what gives us dignity, purpose, and the opportunity for a better life.

“I look forward to continuing to work in a bipartisan fashion to ensure more people – who are ready, willing, and able to work – find employment.”

 Under federal Section 14(c), employers can apply for special certificates from the U.S. Department of Labor to pay individuals with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage. There is no minimum floor for the hourly wage that an employer can pay an individual with a disability under these certificates.

“Today, federal law continues to deny access to opportunity for many workers with disabilities,” Scott said. “It is long past time for Congress to phase out the subminimum wage for workers with disabilities and expand access to fulfilling employment and economic self-sufficiency. We must take this next step to ensure that every worker can succeed in the workplace and earn a fair wage.”

In 2020, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights called for phasing out the 14(c) subminimum wage, finding that it has “limited people with disabilities participating in the program from realizing their full potential.” 

Seven states have phased out subminimum wages or are in the process of doing so, McMorris Rodgers said.


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