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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Final Reminder: Comments on Subminimum Wage Due This Friday!

Updated: The Department of Labor has extended the deadline for comments for the National Online Dialogue about Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Comments are now due Friday, June 21, 2019. The sheltered workshop industry and 14(c) supporters are flooding the dialogue, so it is critical that we submit comments! Please see below for additional information, resources, and talking points.

As you know, the Independent Living community has long opposed the use of Section 14(c) certificates to pay disabled people subminimum wages. Employers use 14(c) certificates to pay disabled employees lower than the minimum wage – sometimes just pennies per hour. Paying people lower wages on the basis of their disability is discrimination, and this is one of the factors that have contributed to disproportionate rates of poverty among disabled people. This online dialogue provides us with an opportunity to share stories and information about our position, experiences, and ideas on this discriminatory and harmful practice. It is critical that our input be heard.

There are three main topics within the dialogue:

  • Use of Section 14(c) and observed trends
  • Experiences transitioning from the use of Section 14(c) certificates
  • Vision for the future of work and workplaces; the landscape over the next five to ten years

How to Participate

To participate, start by going to the main Section 14(c) National Online Dialogue webpage at You will need to register, and then you can log into the dialogue. There is more information about how to get started and participate in the dialogue on the “Getting Started” page.


We recognize that this format is not very accessible for many people. The Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) has put together an online tutorial that may be useful.

If you are unable to contribute to the dialogue on the online platform, or if you have any issues or concerns about accessibility, the Department of Labor is accepting comments by email or phone. You can contact [email protected] or contact ODEP at 202-693-7880 for assistance.

Sample Talking Points:

  • 14(c) was enacted in the 1930s. It is outdated and needs to be eliminated to reflect the current reality of life with a disability.
  • 14(c) was established as a stepping-stone to competitive employment for people with disabilities, but 95% of people remain in sheltered workshops and don’t leave to take jobs in the community.
  • Disabled people live in poverty at disproportionate rates. Policies such as 14(c) are major contributors to this ongoing problem.
  • Paying people with disabilities less just because they have a disability is discrimination.
  • Disabled people can work, just like nondisabled people. Given adequate training, accommodations, and opportunity, people with significant disabilities can obtain competitive integrated employment and be as productive as their non-disabled counterparts.
  • 95% of 14(c) certificate-holders are sheltered workshops. Workers in sheltered workshops often perform tasks that do not utilize their skills, interests, and talents and don’t transfer easily to competitive integrated employment.
  • The possession of 14(c) certificates reinforces the misconception that people with disabilities are less capable and creates a barrier to future employment opportunities.
  • See the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) suggestions for submitting comments.
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  1. Susan Tomasovich says

    The fact that people with disabilities disproportionately live in poverty because of this section is abominable. The federal minimum wage is not a living wage. If you pay people below that, how can they manage at all?