The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed to prohibit discrimination based on disability. However, there are loopholes that some taken advantage of. I want to specifically mention the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA provided employers with the opportunity to fill out the 14 (c) certificate which allows them to pay people with disabilities less than minimum wage.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides for the employment of certain individuals at wage rates below the minimum wage. These individuals include student-learners (vocational education students), as well as full-time students employed by retail or service establishments, agriculture, or institutions of higher education. Also included are individuals whose earning or productive capacity is impaired by a physical or mental disability, including those related to age or injury, for the work to be performed.
I do not believe in paying anyone less than minimum wage. It is not unusual to request equal pay for doing the same job. For example, 18.0 percent of people with a disability were employed in the service industry in 2020 compared with 15.4 percent of people without a disability. They may have been more likely; however, the service industry is where many people find employment. You probably either work or have worked in the service industry or someone you know has.
A few points to consider are, people with disabilities often have more day-to-day expenses than people without disabilities. Additionally, costs of healthcare are typically more expensive. Of course, all costs are dependent on the persons needs. Yet, on average, a household with an adult with a disability spends $17,690 more each year than a household without to achieve the same standard of living.
There are policies and legislation in place to try and mitigate the costs, however, according to research conducted by the National Disability Institute, “Whatever the measure of poverty that is used, individuals with disabilities are more likely to be poor than their nondisabled peers.” This implies that current policies and legislation are not effective. The first inch towards the first step is paying people with disabilities a livable wage.
Finally, people with disabilities deserve the opportunity for a dignified and productive life. They are less likely to be employed, yet, still they’re more likely to be working when they’re 65 or older. Everyone should have access to the tools they need to live comfortably. This has just been an entry level discussion of this issue. I highly encourage all of us to continue learning about this issue and support policy makers that prioritize people with disabilities.
You can use go to this link HERE to see which businesses applied for the 14 (c) certificate. If you see a business that you support on that list, consider reaching out and requesting they do not apply in the future or finding an alternative that pays all their employees a fair wage. I recognize that sometimes that will not be possible because of proximity or other barriers. However, I still urge you to check and then just think about other possible ways we can help people achieve equity.