Subminimum Wage



The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local government (U.S. Department of Labor). Within this law, there is a provision called Section 14(c). This allows employers to pay people with disabilities less than the minimum wage, also known as subminimum wage.

People with disabilities who are employed under the 14(c) certificates are often trained to perform mundane tasks that do not build capacity or transfer into skills necessary to transition into other employment options. Only 5% of individuals who go into sheltered employment obtain competitive, integrated employment (GAO Report). Additionally, more than 50% of individuals working under a 14(c) certificate earn less than $2.50/ per hour (GAO Report). This practice reinforces the stigmatic misconception that people with disabilities are less productive and creates an artificial competitive barrier to future employment opportunities.

Phasing out subminimum wages will help pave the way for equality in the workplace for people with Down syndrome and other disabilities, many of whom work in settings that fail to prepare them for integrated employment in the mainstream economy. The Transformation into Competitive Integrated Employment Act (H.R. 2373) establishes a grant program and a timeline to successfully transition out of the 14(c) certificate model. This will give people with disabilities access to work and training environments that will allow them to acquire meaningful skills and better employment opportunities.



NDSS is working at the state level to pass bills to phase out the payment of subminimum wage under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. States that have taken steps to guarantee a minimum wage to workers with disabilities include: