Statehouse bill introduced to end subminimum wage for people with disabilities

COLUMBIA, SC (Feb. 10, 2021) – A joint resolution filed at the SC Statehouse on Tuesday aims to end subminimum wage for people with disabilities in South Carolina.

This bill (S.533) was introduced by Senator Katrina Shealy, who has partnered with Able South Carolina to bring their advocacy efforts statewide. If the bill passes, a task force would assemble to create a three year transition plan to phase out subminimum wage by August 1, 2024. 

Currently, the United States still operates under a law in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which grants certain employers a 14(c) certificate to pay people with disabilities less than the minimum wage—sometimes pennies an hour.  In South Carolina as of 2020, approximately 1,200 people with disabilities are making less than the minimum wage. Several states have already restricted the use of subminimum wage, and South Carolina looks to be the next state to eliminate this.

“No one in our state should be paid less than the minimum wage,” said Sen. Shealy. “Our state needs to get on board with this. It should be equal; if you work in South Carolina, you should be paid at least minimum wage.”

Kimberly Tissot, the executive director of the disability non-profit Able South Carolina, emphasizes that the bill’s passage would not immediately put anyone out of a job. Rather, it would create a plan for the people receiving subminimum wage to transition out of these settings and into competitive employment.

“In 2021, our approach to employment for people with disabilities should not be the same as it was in the 1930s,” Tissot said. “Our society has changed, and people with disabilities have adapted and innovated. We can work just as well as anyone else, and we deserve to be paid equally for it.”

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