Jake's Take: Exploitation of the Disabled Worker

Say you apply for a job here in America. You go through interview and you even get the job, what would you expect to be paid an hour if you're an hourly wage earner? Would you expect at least minimum wage? If your pay was below that would you complain that the wage was too low? What if you went to complain about your low pay only to learn a little known law allows some employers to pay as little as 22 cents an hour?

This is an issue facing many disabled workers around our great nation. It has recently been reported that Goodwill is allowed by federal law to pay disabled workers in some cases only 22 cents an hour. Goodwill is just one of many US charities and employers that are allowed to to this.

The Special Minimum Wage Certificate allows some charities and employers to base pay on how a person's disability affects their job performance. This was exposed as being abused by Goodwill and no doubt other employers as well. All they have to do is claim the persons disability affects their work, if the employer is part of this program. So this law could easily allow two people doing the same job having starkly different pay. Even if the able bodied person is less productive or simply incompetent.

Folks at Goodwill make as if disabled people should just be happy they are employed at all and The Special Minimum Wage Certificate is the only reason these folks get to work. This is no less than exploitation of the disabled community as well as another form of institutional discrimination. 

We as a people should be putting an end to all forms of discrimination whether it be due to race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or even disability. 

As a disabled American this is a slap in the face. We in the disabled community are told to not use our disabilities as an excuse and even told we are just lazy for not working. If you know you will be making 22 cents to a dollar an hour when everyone else is making $7.25, what incentive is there to work? This law forces disabled folks into poverty and increases their reliance on social services like food stamps and medicaid. We need laws that include disabled folks in the workforce at equal pay. As well as laws that better create a path to self-reliance.

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