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Know Your Rights, Selected By Chloe Crawford (online exhibition)

About the exhibition

The original 1938 text of section 14(c) of the United States Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA) states:

(1) The Secretary, to the extent necessary to prevent curtailment of opportunities for employment, shall by regulation or order provide for the employment, under special certificates, of individuals (including individuals employed in agriculture) whose earning or productive capacity is impaired by age, physical or mental deficiency, or injury, at wages which are—

(A) lower than the minimum wage applicable under section 206 of this title 

(B) commensurate with those paid to nonhandicapped workers, employed in the vicinity in which the individuals under the certificates are employed, for essentially the same type, quality, and quantity of work, and 

(C) related to the individual’s productivity.

If an employer obtains a “14(c) certificate” they can pay disabled workers below the minimum wage, which is currently set at $7.25/hour. The employer has a lot of discretion when figuring out a disabled worker's wage. There is no limit to how low, or subminimally, they can go; some workers reportedly receive $1/hour.

Many of the employers holding 14(c) certificates are non-profits who do not pay federal taxes in part because they are perceived to provide a “public good.” Many times that public good is employment training for disabled people, which they publicize in order to attract donations.

The House of Representatives recently passed the Raise the Wage Act, which would bring the minimum wage to $15/hour in the next 8 years, and phase out issuing 14(c) certificates (yet still keep wages for disabled workers below the proposed minimum). It is unlikely to pass in the current Senate. A few states have banned subminimum wage for disabled workers.

The DOL requires all employers with workers who are paid subminimum wage to publicly post information about their rights, which includes the following:

Any employee who think he or she is not being paid properly may call or write to the Wage and Hour Division to complain. Also, a worker, or his or her parent or guardian, may write to the Wage and Hour Division to have his or her pay rate reviewed by an administrative law judge.


Local Wage and Hour Division Offices' Contact: https://www.dol.gov/whd/local/index.htm

14(c) Certificate Holders: https://www.dol.gov/whd/workerswithdisabilities/certificates.htm

US Commision on Civil Rights Public Hearing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXxUMNfH85A


About the selector

Chloe Crawford