Dems demand end to waivers used to pay people with disabilities below minimum wage

Dems demand end to waivers used to pay people with disabilities below minimum wage
© Greg Nash

Half a dozen Senate Democrats are calling on the Department of Labor to crack down on employers paying people with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage.

In a letter to Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOvernight Health Care: Nearly 100,000 children tested positive for coronavirus over two weeks last month | Democrats deny outreach to Trump since talks collapsed | California public health chief quits suddenly On The Money: Administration defends Trump executive orders | CBO reports skyrocketing deficit | Government pauses Kodak loan pending review Harris favored as Biden edges closer to VP pick MORE (D-Mass.) and other senators asked for information on the practice of issuing 14(c) certificates, waivers allowing employers to give “subminimum wages” to workers with disabilities.

"These waivers are inherently discriminatory and should be phased out in a responsible way," the letter reads. ”While the Department continues to issue these waivers, however, we are concerned by past abuses of the program and hope to better understand the extent to which the Department is able to prevent employers' mistreatment of and discrimination against workers with disabilities."


The senators noted in the letter that as of January, more than 150,000 workers nationwide were eligible for subminimum wages.

They argued that the practice, allowed under a section of the Fair Labor Standards Act, “unjustifiably sets low expectations for workers with disabilities.”

In some cases, they noted that employees are earning as low as 16 cents per hour.

The senators asked Acosta for information on a number of issues related to the waivers, wages and oversight for the practice no later than May 11.