A federal disability policy agency sent a report and letter to the Obama administration on Aug. 23 urging a phase out of a controversial provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act that allows certified employers to compensate persons with disabilities at wages below the federal minimum wage.
The FLSA section in question — section 14(c) — allows employers certified by the U.S. Department of Labor to pay so-called subminimum wages to persons with disabilities and other qualifying workers. The provision has been a controversial one, with disability advocates arguing both that the provision should be entirely abolished as discriminatory and that the provision has an important part to play in a range of employment options for persons with disabilities.
The recommendation to phase the provision out came from the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency that advises the president, Congress and other federal agencies on practices and policies impacting persons with disabilities. The president appoints members to serve at the agency.
Separately, the National Federation of the Blind called for nation-wide demonstrations at Goodwill thrift stores on Aug. 25 to protest the organization’s subminimum wages for workers with disabilities. The organization called for a boycott of Goodwill Industries International, Inc. in June over the same issue. NFB alleges that freedom of information act requests show Goodwill Industries has paid employees wages as low as $0.22 per hour.
NFB and dozens of other advocate groups for persons with disabilities support proposed legislation — the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act, H.R. 3086 — that would change the FLSA to phase out subminimum wages and repeal the provision that allows them.
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