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Monday, October 2, 2023

Lalbor Department to Review Subminimum Wage Program

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the employment of people on the autism spectrum  There is bipartisan support for ending the subminimum wage.

At the Department of Labor, our North Star is building a more accessible and equitable workplace for all, including workers with disabilities. While we have made substantial progress towards fulfilling the promise of access and equity, there’s still room to go. We know that many workers with disabilities are still being paid wages far below the federal minimum wage under section 14(c) certificates. We have been urged by not just advocates but also by numerous oversight entities and advisory groups, ranging from the Government Accountability Office, the National Council on Disability, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, to the DOL’s own Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment, to carefully review the 14(c) program and prioritize competitive integrated employment.

And that is what we are going to do. The Department of Labor – led by the Office of Disability Employment Policy, the Wage and Hour Division, our Solicitor, and our policy office– is embarking on engaging stakeholders to ensure opportunities for competitive integrated employment and to move toward greater equity and economic security for workers with disabilities. We are launching a comprehensive review of the Section 14(c) program to re-examine its use and future viability. As part of this effort, we want to hear from all of you – and especially individuals with disabilities – about your experiences with the 14(c) program, and what changes are needed to expand equitable employment opportunities for people with disabilities. In the coming weeks we will be engaging with key organizations, stakeholders, and impacted workers directly on these important issues.

The Rehab Act and NDEAM are fundamentally about the notions of access and equity for people with disabilities. We believe that this historic anniversary is the right time to ask this question about the 14(c) program. We want to hear from you about how you have been impacted by changing laws and government policies, access to services and supports, and even shifting social views about what work opportunities people with disabilities are able to take on and in fact deserve. As our Acting Secretary said earlier this week at the White House Disability Policy Forum celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, we need your thoughts, your ideas, and your partnership to do this right. I couldn’t agree more.