Battle of Equality for Fare Wages for Employees with Disabilities

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Justin Young

Throughout the history of our great nation, there has been an ongoing issue of the Battle for Equality for the Disability community.  Over the years much ground has been covered with the passage of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (1973), the American’s with Disabilities Act (1990), the American’s with Disabilities Amendments Act (2008), and several other forms of federal legislation related to the equal rights of those with disabilities.

Unfortunately though, there is still an issue of inequality in the United States which can be found in the workplace.  In recent years there has been an issue of inequality among the dollar amount employers wish to pay to their employees with disabilities.  The fact there is federal legislation in this nation allowing employers to practice inequality in the work place is extremely unjust and frustrating for the Battle of Equality and Disability Rights.

According to the Fare Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a federal law which authorizes employers after receiving a certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD), to pay special minimum wages—wages less than the federal minimum wage—to workers who have disabilities for the work being performed.  The certificate also allows the payment of wages that are less than the prevailing wage to workers who have disabilities. Because of this specific section in the legislation referred to above, employers such as Goodwill Industries can pay as low as 22 cents per hour to employees with disabilities.

This has been an ongoing issue and to show our support for this cause, on August 25, 2012 the Center for Disability Rights in conjunction with other concerned local organizations held a protest outside the Stoneridge Plaza Goodwill store in Greece, NY.  The purpose of this protest was to express our outrage at the fact that a significant amount of this organization’s stores practice the method of inequality in wages in the workplace.  This was a national campaign on the date mentioned above spearheaded by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB).

In continuation of the spirit of this protest, currently there is an online petition in support of this issue which can be found at  This petition initiated by the NFB has gain much support which can be shown by the over 1,000 signatures on the petition.  It is our goal to ensure this petition gains as much ground as possible to inform those who may not be aware of this issue to join our efforts.  There currently is a bill pending before a committee in the House of Representatives known as the Fare Wages for Workers with Disabilities and if passed onto the floor it would aid in ending the inequality allowed in the workplace.  Finally, the question which must be addressed is will the wages of those with disabilities in at least New York State increase?  As our state legislature has determined to increase the minimum wage in the coming years, the true proof of the test of equality would be to raise the wages of workers with disabilities.