July 2020 marked the 30th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), a landmark piece of legislation in the effort for equality. Unfortunately, that law has not even come close to solving all of the inequities and injustices disabled Americans face. One of those is that it is currently legal for employers to pay disabled people less than the federal minimum wage, and they do just that! This is a disgusting display of viewing disabled people as less than human and it must change.
Sign on to demand that the loophole in the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act that allows this is repealed now!
In 2018 there were over 153,000 workers who could legally be paid less than minimum wage, some of them as little as 4 cents per hour! Some groups have even been found to put disabled workers in dangerous situation like scraping toxic materials, all while being paid pennies. The orginizations who employ this loophole also usually try to get good press coverage about how generous they are for even hiring diabled people. It's condescending, patronizing and ultimately they are literally bragging about exploiting the labor of a vulnerable group.
Using disabled people as props for a PR stunt is exploitative. Doing so while also underpaying those disabled people is even worse.
The arguments for why this policy is OK are truly horrendous. They argue that disabled don't need paychecks because they are supported in other ways. This is unbelievable dehumanizing and also completely untrue. Many disabled people live in abject poverty because we, as a society, have decided not to actually support them. Many cannot marry or even live with a partner because they will lose critical government support if they do. Those in power seem to believe every disabled person has a family with money that can support them through adulthood and that being disabled means you don't deserve rights or any autonomy.
A few states have taken it upon themselves to close this loophole, but because it's not federally illegal to exploit disabled workers, it will keep happening in the other states. Additionally, Obama included disabled people in his raising of the minimum wage for federal contracts to $10.10, but again, there was a loophole. It didn't apply to manufacturing contracts, which is the sector where many disabled people are employed.
Please sign on to demand Congress protect disabled workers by repealing section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act now!