What is all this about sub-minimum wage?

Is it a “loop hole” or an accommodation?  It depends on how you use it and who you use it for and if you are following the regulations as intended.

Don’t fall for the argument that this is a loop hole – or at least if you do, stop exploitation of those who abuse the system rather than using it to promote employment and community engagement.

White Picket Fence

Section 14 (c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was not intended to be a “loop-hole” to exploit anyone.  It was also not written to apply to whole populations of people with any type of disability.  The fact that a worker may have a disability is not in and of itself sufficient to warrant the payment of a subminimum wage.

The Special Minimum Wage Provision Section 14c of the FLSA is a vital tool that allows individuals with significant disabilities to work in an environment where they are compensated commensurate with their productivity, have friendships, support and purposeful activity – this can be in any work setting that they choose.  Often, it is in community settings which also enables the employee to build natural supports.

Everyone has a right to work. Support this right for our most vulnerable citizens!

Take a look at this fence – yes, there is a problem – what is the best way to fix it?  Tear the whole fence down or fix that one board?  My vote would be to fix the board and keep the fence.  The same with Section 14 (c) – fix the problem but keep the regulation.

As with many laws and regulations set up to protect people and provide choices and alternatives, there are always those who will exploit and abuse.  This does not mean that the system was bad or caused the exploitation but that those who abuse and exploited were doing evil actions.  Those are the ones that should be held accountable for their wrong-doing – not those who are in need of choice, alternatives and protections.

We should not punish our vulnerable citizens because there are others who will exploit them.  Without certain protections in place our vulnerable citizens will be at risk of much more danger.  What we need to do is call out the evil-doers and hold them accountable for their actions.

Department of Labor fact sheet.



5 comments on “What is all this about sub-minimum wage?

  1. Are you familiar with A Team USA? (https://ateamusa.net/ )

    Please click on the tab telling about the ugent need to express sentiments like you have worded so well above. The US Civl Rights Commission has opened a public comment period for statements regarding 14c. We need all the help we can get. PLEASE comment and share with your circle of contacts. This is a crucial opportunity that we must take advantage of.
    Thank you for your tenacity in advocating for those that cannot speak for themselves.


  2. David Ordan says:

    Well said! Absolutely true. And some other fun facts: 90% (or more) of “employers” making use of 14C Special Minimum Wage (the actual term, because it is calculated according to minimum wage and productivity studies) are Prevocational Workshops, schools and hospitals that are working with a very specific group of people with disabilities.

    These are people with severe cognitive or developmental disabilities who choose to work in such programs. They can and are encouraged to leave if they would like to work in the community or simply do something else with their time.

    This means that the whole effort to eliminate 14C is directed at the most vulnerable members of the most vulnerable population in the country. All for – what, exactly?

    Second, if you take into account the full array of services and benefits in their Adaptive Wage and Benefit package – things like job training, therapy, one-to-one assistance using the restroom or eating, transportation, etc. – the “subminimum packaage” often exceeds $15 an hour.

    14C is actually one of the rare instances of a partnership between government, businesses and nonprofits that works – and does exactly what it was intended to do!

    So of course, sure, let’s tear it down. On what planet does that make any sense?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Here is some information on the US Commission on Civil Rights and where to send a letter – email via post.

    On November 15, 2019, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights held a public briefing to discuss the law that enables employers to pay a Special Minimum wage (Section 14© of the Fair Labor Standards Act) as an accommodation for specific people with specific disabilities which provides a choice and opportunity to be employed.

    Opponents to choice and opportunity are calling this law a loophole, exploitative and discriminatory. The law is an accommodation for those who need it. It is abusers of the law that are exploiting and discriminating against a whole population of people who are not the intended people who need this accommodation in order to work. What really needs to happen is for the abusers to be called out—don’t punish those who need this accommodation.

    The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is accepting comments on this issue by email or letter.

    Comments are due by December 15, 2019.

    If you value work training CHOICE offered by your local Community Rehabilitation Program or specialized employment in the community SPEAK UP!

    Consider the following simple statements:

    I work at (name of employer) and I support 14(c)”

    I am a parent/ family member/caregiver/friend of an individual who works and I fully support 14(c).

    Add your personal story!

    Send email to subminimumwages@usccr.gov

    Send letters to OCRE/Public Comments, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights,
    1331 Pennsylvania Avenue NW,
    Suite 1150
    Washington, D.C. 20425
    Washington, DC, United States


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