Melwood Applauds Introduction of Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act (TCIEA), H. 1263/S. 533, in 118th Congress
March 1, 2023
Legislation would eliminate subminimum wages for people with disabilities and create more equal and accessible workplaces
Upper Marlboro, Md. – Melwood, a leading employer, advocate and preferred provider for people with disabilities, is proud to support the reintroduction of the Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act (H. 1263/S. 533), and commends this important congressional effort to create fairer and more accessible employment for people with disabilities. Introduced by Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) in the Senate, and Representatives Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (D-Wash.) in the House, the bill would end the 85-year-old subminimum wage law that allows employers holding a 14(c) certificate to pay people with disabilities as little as $0.03 per hour while subjecting them to discriminatory and stressful time trials.
The existing subminimum wage practice originated in Section 14(c) of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and was based on the view that businesses needed significant incentives to hire people with disabilities, based on the premise that people with disabilities were incapable of working like any other employee. Today, as we strive for a more inclusive economy that recognizes the skills, contributions and value of each person – with or without a disability – it’s time that our laws reflect this and uphold the right of every person with a disability to work, earn a paycheck, and fully participate in society as any of their neighbors.
The continuation of payments below the minimum wage based on disability reinforces the false and discriminatory premise that a person with a disability is not capable of meeting their job requirements or adding the same value to a company as a person without disabilities. For the people that Melwood supports, these stereotypes and biases foreshadow, and often directly result in, lives of poverty, segregation, and dependence on public support. Under this law, an estimated 122,000 people with disabilities are told every day that one hour of their hard work is worth less than that of their non-disabled colleagues.
“When laws are written based on a discriminatory premise, they reinforce discrimination in our workplaces and communities,” said Larysa Kautz, president & CEO of Melwood. “At Melwood, we proactively eliminated the use of subminimum wages following strong conviction from our leadership and community that this practice was an affront to civil rights and in stark contrast to the respect and dignity workers with disabilities deserve. We support this move to, once and for all, eliminate the subminimum wage at the federal level and bring us closer to a more inclusive economy that promotes financial independence.”
People with disabilities have a right to meaningful employment in inclusive settings where they have opportunities to succeed and are paid wages that are comparable to those of their co-workers. Melwood thanks Senators Casey and Daines, and Representatives Scott and McMorris Rodgers for their leadership and advocacy on this important issue.
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