This report from the National Council on Disability (NCD) examines trends and issues related to workers with disabilities being paid less than minimum wage. NCD found federal and state funded employment service providers across the country still grapple with providing employment services within outdated systems in a dynamically changing legal and policy environment.
The report recommends the phase-out of Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (which permits sub-minimum wages in some instances) on a six-year timeline, together with a “phase-up” of systems changes necessary to bring people with disabilities into competitive, integrated employment, self-employment, and entrepreneurship.
NDEAM: Observances, Developments, and Resources
National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), observed every October, originated in 1945, when Congress declared the first week in October "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." We’ve come a long way since then, including updated terminology and the expansion of the week’s designation to a month-long celebration of the contributions of workers with disabilities.
Read the message from Victoria Lipnic, Acting Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), noting achievements in enforcing laws like the ADA, as well as the need to continue working “with steely determination” to ensure equal employment opportunities for all.
Check out these additional articles, materials, and resources:
Resources for Mentoring Youth with Disabilities
As NDEAM comes to a close, it’s a good time to remind ourselves of the value of mentoring youth with disabilities as they transition to employment and adulthood.
The Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) offers two factsheets on mentoring youth with disabilities:
“Career-Focused Mentoring for Youth; The What, Why, and How” introduces mentoring during the transition from school to work, and “Cultivating Leadership: Mentoring Youth with Disabilities” outlines the features of successful mentoring relationships, and how they benefit young people, their mentors, and their employers.
ODEP initiated the Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program (EFSLMP) in support of the nationwide Employment First movement, which promotes competitive, integrated employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. ODEP recognized that moving away from sheltered workshops and other segregated employment settings would require technical support and collaboration.
Today, many providers have moved past the beginning stages of this transformation and have provided valuable feedback on lessons learned and successful strategies. This new manual offers an in-depth look at specific areas of organizational change that are central to transformation.
Brett Sheats, national project director of the ODEP-funded Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) wrote an article for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) highlighting resources and training opportunities that employers and human resources professionals can use to foster workplaces that enable all workers to contribute their skills and talents.
The National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC) offers this collection of information and resources on self-employment for people with disabilities. Self-employment may offer a viable path to economic independence that gets around some of the barriers to traditional employment, such as access to transportation, inflexible work schedules, and lack of local opportunities.
This article outlines strategies employers can use to create cultures and establish structures that ensure equal opportunities for workers with disabilities.