11.18.21

Daines Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Support Montanans with Disabilities in the Workforce

U.S. SENATE —U.S. Senator Steve Daines today introduced a bipartisan bill to support Montanans with disabilities who are in the workforce. Daines’ bill, the “Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act” or TCIEA, would end the discriminatory practice of paying individuals with disabilities below minimum wage. Today, tens of thousands of people with disabilities are being paid less than the minimum wage – most of these workers have intellectual or developmental disabilities – and some can be paid as little as a few cents an hour.

“There is dignity and hope in work, so we should be doing all we can to support Montanans with disabilities in the workforce, not treat them unfairly. Montanans with disabilities should never be paid below the minimum wage,” Daines said.

Daines introduced the bipartisan bill with Democratic Senator Bob Casey (Penn.).

Hear from an advocate for the deaf and blind, Sheila Leigland of Great Falls, about how important Daines’ bill is to Montanans and all Americans with disabilities.

More background on the bill:

According to reporting from the Department of Labor, an estimated 100,000 people in the United States are paid subminimumwage. A 2020 U.S. Commission on Civil Rights report found that between 2017 and 2018, the average wage of a person with a disability working under a such certificates was only $3.34 per hour—less than half of the federal minimum wage. This is due to a provision in the Fair Labor Standards Act that allows employers to apply for special certificates from the U.S. Department of Labor to pay people with disabilities a subminimum wage. 

The TCIEA would prohibit the U.S. Secretary of Labor from issuing new certificates and phase out the use of subminimumwage practices for all employers over five years. It would provide grants to states or employers, supporting employers transitioning to a business model that pays at least minimum wage to workers with disabilities and continue to provide services and supports to workers with disabilities, particularly to those who need more supports in the workplace. 

Find bill text HERE. 

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Contact: Katherine McKeoghKatie Schoettler