Employers must pay their employees at least $7.25 per hour in order to comply with federal minimum wage laws. However, there are exceptions to this law that give employers the right to pay subminimum wages to certain workers. Recently, the Department of Labor (DOL) asked the public to submit feedback on the use of subminimum wages.
The Current Subminimum Wage Law
The law currently states that employers are allowed to pay subminimum wages to various groups of workers, including:
- Full-time students working in retail, agriculture, service, or higher education
- Workers with mental or physical disabilities
Employers must apply for and obtain a certificate from the DOL to pay workers subminimum wages. The subminimum wage varies depending on the type of work. Student learners are entitled to no less than 75% of the federal minimum wage, whereas full-time students are entitled to no less than 85%. Disabled workers are compensated based on how productive they are compared to non-disabled workers.
Many people, including advocates for disabled workers, have argued that the law allows employers to exploit vulnerable workers, especially those with mental or physical disabilities. These critics believe the federal minimum wage law should apply to all workers, not just those that meet certain criteria.
The Department of Labor’s Request For Public Feedback
The DOL recently asked the public to provide feedback on paying subminimum wages to disabled workers. The DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) was specifically interested in hearing ideas and personal stories from disabled workers, families, employers, and service providers. The goal was to gain a deeper understanding of how disabled workers feel about the current policies and what improvements they would like to see in the future. This request gives critics of the subminimum wage law the opportunity to voice their opinions and fight for change on behalf of these workers.
Members of the public were allowed to submit feedback until June 14th, when the online discussion was closed. Now, the ODEP is preparing a final report to submit to the Secretary of Labor and Congress. Hopefully, the public’s comments will inspire lawmakers to take action and increase wages for disabled workers.
Is your employer violating your right to minimum wage? If so, contact Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. as soon as possible. Our experienced attorneys have helped countless clients take legal action against their employers to recover the compensation they deserve. Call us now at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.