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Congress Proposes End to Subminimum Wages for People with Disabilities in Raise the Wage Act

For Immediate Release             
May 25, 2017                        

Contact: David Card
202.408.9514 x122
press@ndrn.org


WASHINGTON – The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) applauds the introduction of the Raise the Wage Act which ends the arcane practice of paying people with disabilities less than the minimum wage and raises the federal minimum wage for all American workers.

“The subminimum wage creates and reinforces a life of poverty and dependency on public support for people with disabilities,” said NDRN Executive Director Curt Decker. “It is long past time Congress acted to end discrimination against people with disabilities in the workplace.”

The Raise the Wage act would phase out a provision in the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act that permits employers to pay some people with disabilities less than the minimum wage. The provision has been called discriminatory, archaic, and in direct conflict with other existing federal statutes and initiatives by many in the disability community.

But despite this opposition, the use of subminimum wages for people with disabilities remains prevalent. NDRN member agencies, the nation’s Protection and Advocacy and Client Assistance Programs, represent many people with disabilities around the country who want an opportunity to work at a competitive wage, but unfortunately, have ended up in positions only earning dollars or even pennies by the hour.

Many of their stories are told in two reports on the subminimum wage issued by NDRN called “Segregated and Exploited: A Call to Action” and “Beyond Segregated and Exploited.” Additionally, the work P&As and CAPs are doing to assist people with disabilities earning these poverty wages find integrated jobs at competitive wages was recently profiled in the documentary, Bottom Dollars.

“We see the end of the subminimum wage in the Raise the Wage Act as an important and historic step in acknowledging the inherent worth of all individuals," said Decker.

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The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and the Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities. Collectively, the Network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States.

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