#timeForTIME: Labor Standards Must Be Fair for All

A blind man sits and works at a computer.

#timeForTIME: Labor Standards Must Be Fair for All

Eighty years ago, the Fair Labor Standards Act became the law of the United States. It sought to improve wages and working conditions for American workers. Since its enactment, progress has certainly been made. But one thing hasn't changed since 1938: workers with disabilities can still be paid less than the federal minimum wage.

When exclusion of workers with disabilities was written into the FLSA in 1938, the idea was to incentivize businesses to hire workers with disabilities. Eighty years later, disabled workers who receive less than the minimum wage are not only poor, but most of them are segregated from the rest of the workforce. The policy was always wrong, and the National Federation of the Blind has always said so.

But it is now clear that, despite the good intentions of the lawmakers of eighty years ago, a minimum-wage exemption for entities that hire disabled workers just doesn't work. It simply traps Americans with disabilities in menial and meaningless jobs.

In the eightieth year since the passage of the FLSA, the National Federation of the Blind is continuing to work with Congress and our partners toward passage of the Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment (TIME) Act, which will responsibly phase out the segregated, subminimum-wage employment allowed by an antiquated provision of the FLSA.

We hope to mark the year of the FLSA's eightieth birthday with the end of this misguided provision, so that fair labor standards are finally fair for workers with disabilities. It's #timeForTIME.