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Murray Applauds US Commission on Civil Rights Recommendation to Finally End the Use of Subminimum Wages for Workers With Disabilities

Murray: “Paying workers with disabilities a subminimum wage is discrimination—plain and simple—and it’s way past time we repeal this outdated policy.”


(Washington, D.C.) –U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, applauded the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) for its report recommending that Congress finally repeal Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which allows employers to pay workers with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage.


“Paying workers with disabilities a subminimum wage is discrimination—plain and simple—and it’s way past time that we repeal this outdated policy. For too long, some workers with disabilities have been relegated to subminimum wage jobs where they are segregated from their peers and paid far too little. As this report shows, this is a violation of their civil rights—and we need to act now to end it.


“I was glad to see that the United States Commission on Civil Rights agrees that we must finally repeal and phase out subminimum wage. And I’ll keep pushing Congress to finally pass the Raise the Wage Act, which will ensure that all workers—including workers with disabilities—are paid fairly.”


According to the USCCR’s report, more than 100,000 workers with disabilities have been subjected to subminimum wages, averaging an estimated $3.34 an hour in their analysis. Not only does this exemption segregate and subject workers with disabilities to discrimination, it is in direct conflict with modern disability policy, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the Olmstead Supreme Court case.   


Senator Murray is a lead co-sponsor of the Raise the Wage Act which, in addition to increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024, would also phase out Section 14(c) of the FLSA. In 2019, Senator Murray also urged the USCCR to support Congressional efforts to repeal Section 14(c), calling it a “critical civil rights issue.” In this report, USCCR supports these efforts stating that, “Congress should repeal Section 14(c) with a planned phase-out period to allow transition among service providers and people with disabilities to alternative service models prioritizing competitive integrated employment.”