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Wage and hour law: Some disabled workers earn subminimum wages


The Americans with Disabilities Act protects individuals with physical challenges against wage discrimination. There are some loopholes that certain employers in Florida and elsewhere use to secure cheap labor. Workers whose physical or mental deficiencies make them less productive than others without disabilities can be paid at rates below minimum wage. Although special permits must be obtained, it is not uncommon for companies to violate wage and hour law by taking advantage of this law that enables them to remunerate workers at what is called the subminimum wage.

The subminimum wage level was intended to motivate companies in competitive industries, such as manufacturing, to employ physically challenged workers and provide training that would equip them with skills to help them earn an income. However, it has been reported that devious employers hire people with physical challenges under the guise of job training programs. This allows the companies to get the jobs done while paying subminimum wages.

Although workers learned new skills, they usually could never graduate from the training program. As soon as they became skilled in one task, they would be moved to a new job where new skills had to be learned. In this way, the companies could utilize the services of cheap labor to bring them riches while the workers never reach the financial independence that they were promised after mastering their new skills.

Disabled workers in Florida who are victims of unscrupulous employers who violate wage and hour law by taking advantage of the subminimum wage incentive are entitled to hold the companies accountable. The prospect of facing an employer in court may be daunting, but help is available. There are experienced attorneys who are skilled in the area of disability discrimination in workplaces. Legal support may lead to compensation of lost income and other damages suffered.

Source:, "Can employers actually pay disabled Americans below the minimum wage?", Taylor Leighton, Aug. 15, 2016

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