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 Ann WarrenAnother recession could hit US in 2019, says credit union association chief Warren says vote should be delayed, asks what Kavanaugh is hiding Kavanaugh hires attorney amid sexual assault allegations: report 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."

ADVERTISEMENT

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.