Disability Advocate Organizations Champion H.B. 1924 In Virginia To Eliminate 14(C) Subminimum Wage For People With Disabilities
January 12, 2023
The bill, introduced by Delegate Patrick Hope, would end the use of discriminatory pay practices, advancing economic empowerment and inclusion for people with disabilities
UPPER MARLBORO, Md., January 12, 2023 – In response to Delegate Patrick Hope’s introduction of H.B. 1924 to eliminate 14(c) subminimum wage for people with disabilities in Virginia, local disability advocate organizations are championing the bill as a critical step in advancing economic inclusion and empowerment for people with disabilities.
Under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act enacted in 1938, employers are legally permitted to pay employees impacted by a physical, developmental, cognitive, mental or age-related disability lower than the minimum wage. There have been steady declines in the number of organizations using a 14(c) certificate and in the number of people still paid under 14(c) for several years, nationwide and in Virginia. Recently, the Commonwealth was awarded a grant from the Rehabilitative Services Administration through the Disability Innovation Fund to transition hundreds of Virginians still being paid below the minimum wage into full, competitive employment.
H.B.1924 seeks to eliminate the use of 14(c) in Virginia by providing a phase out over the next three years, coinciding with the Disability Innovation Fund grant. With these combined trends and efforts, now is the time for Virginia to embrace and affirm the value of each worker, regardless of their disability.
Several other states have abolished the use of 14(c) certificates. Alaska, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Colorado, California, and Delaware have all eliminated the practice. At the federal level, the AbilityOne Commission published a final rule prohibiting the use of 14(c) across any remaining contracts, effective October 2022.
“Virginia has always been a leader in providing equal opportunity to people with disabilities,” says Delegate Patrick A. Hope (D-Arlington), Member, Virginia General Assembly. “Thanks to a federal grant, Virginia can now begin to phase out paying workers with disabilities a subminimum wage. My legislation will take the final step to treat all Virginians with disabilities equally and fully integrate them into a community setting.”
“We strongly support Delegate Hope’s efforts to advance equal pay opportunities for people with disabilities, with a vision to build a better, more inclusive and economically empowered economy for all people in Virginia,” says Larysa Kautz, President & CEO of Melwood, a leading advocate, employer, and preferred service provider for people with disabilities. “The way our laws are written matter. When people with disabilities can legally be paid less than people without disabilities, that’s a civil rights issue. We must be on the right side of leading and shaping the future of how people with disabilities are treated in our country.”
“Because the current law targets people with disabilities specifically, it is by definition discriminatory,” says Jason Harper, President of Virginia APSE. “After 85 years, now is the time for Virginia to correct this civil rights issue. Ending 14(c) will send a message to all people with disabilities, their families, and communities that their time in the workplace is valued. We strongly support Delegate Hope’s bill to end subminimum wages in Virginia.”
“Individuals with Down syndrome and other disabilities are a vital part of society and our economy,” says Kandi Pickard, President & CEO of the National Down Syndrome Society. “Wage equity is social equity. Eliminating subminimum wage is crucial to not only the disability community but to the state as a whole. NDSS strongly supports this legislation and urges swift passage to ensure Virginians with disabilities receive equal pay for equal work.”
Local organizations in support of the bill include:
The Arc of Virginia
National Down Syndrome Society
National Federation of the Blind of Virginia
Virginia Board for People with Disabilities
For more information about the history of 14(c), please visit: https://apse.org/eliminating-14c-subminimum-wage/
To write to your representative to show your support for H.B. 1924, please visit: https://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/
Melwood is one of the largest employers of people with disabilities in the country, employing more than 1,600 workers – nearly 1,000 of whom are people with disabilities. Melwood offers job placement, job training, life skills for independence, and support services to more than 2,500 people each year in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Melwood also has an inclusive summer camp program for children and provides employment and support services to veterans and active-duty military members who have experienced service-related trauma or injury. For more information, visit www.Melwood.org.
Vice President of Government and Public Relations