October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), a time to celebrate the achievements of people with differing abilities in the workplace. Yet there is a stain on the celebration because the sub-minimum wage persists and we have people in this country paid as little as $0.25 an hour simply because they have a disability. It is past time that we eliminated the sub-minimum wage.
The Sub-Minimum Wage
Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standard Act of 1938 allows employers to pay people with a disability less than minimum wage simply because they have a disability. It is as if we are saying people with a disability are less than a full person and should be paid less than a full person. It is well past time to change this law.
In 2012, the National Council on Disability issued a study that found 420,000 people were paid a sub-minimum wage. Through diligent work, that number has been reduced to under 100,000. Individual states are beginning to ban the sub-minimum wage. The advocacy work so many are doing is paying off; we are making a difference. Yet there is work that remains. One person paid a sub-minimum wage is one too many.
We Witness the Good Work People with Differing Abilities Do Every Day
Our business, John’s Crazy Socks, was co-founded by an entrepreneur with Down syndrome, John Cronin. He has grown it to become the world’s largest sock store. Don’t tell us that people with a disability cannot produce.
More than half our colleagues have a differing ability. Our colleagues do great work and we succeed because we hire them. The results: we gain a competitive advantage. Hiring people with a differing ability leads to better morale, better productivity, better retention rates and helps us recruit. Where competitors struggle to find enough good employees, we have a surplus of excellent applicants.
We do not give jobs to anyone. Everyone who works here has earned his or her job. Everyone does meaningful work that contributes to our mission to spread happiness. They deserve fair pay.
Eliminating the Sub-Minimum Wage
A permanent change is coming and we need to finish the work. The U.S. Department of Labor has announced that it will review the payment of a sub-minimum wage to people with a disability. There is a bill before Congress that will eliminate the sub-minimum wage. The Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act (H.R. 1263/S. 533) would phase out 14(c) certificates and help transition people with disabilities into competitive, integrated employment.
Contact your members of Congress to ask them to support this bill. Stand up for your brothers and sisters. Eliminate the sub-minimum wage that treats people with a disability as if they are not fully human. Overturn a law that allows employers to treat workers like second class citizens.
About John’s Crazy Socks
John’s Crazy Socks was inspired by John Lee Cronin, a young man with Down syndrome, and his love of colorful and fun socks—what he calls his “crazy socks.” He and his father, Mark X. Cronin, started the company as a social enterprise with a mission of Spreading Happiness™. With more than 4,000 socks, John’s Crazy Socks is now the world’s largest sock store. More than half their employees have a differing ability, and their Giving Back program has raised over $650,000 for charity partners like the Special Olympics, the National Down Syndrome Society, and the Autism Society of America. Most of all, they are Spreading Happiness™.
For more information about John’s Crazy Socks, visit our webpage, Facebook page, Instagram account, TikTok or YouTube channel. You can also contact us at 631-760-5625 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.