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Equal Employment Act: The Work Begins

On July 21, 2016, People On the Go public policy director Ken Capone was invited by the United States Department of Labor in Washington, D.C., to share strategies employed by self-advocates in Maryland that led to the successful passage of the Equal Employment Act, which ends the practice of subminimum wage in Maryland for people with disabilities.

During the 2016 legislative session, People On the Go members successfully advocated with elected officials and opponents to phase out subminimum wage 14c certificates issued by the Maryland Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation (DLLR). Capone said, “From an advocacy perspective, sub-minimum wage puts people with disabilities against one another because some people will make more than sub-minimum wage while others will be stuck making sub-minimum wage for years – perhaps even decades. This practice, no matter how well intentioned at the beginning, now promotes discrimination with just a hint of segregation.”

Now that the legislation has passed, self-advocates are busy working with a number of groups around the state, including employers that hold 14c certificates, DLLR, and the Developmental Disabilities Administration, to ensure that as certificates are phased out over the next four years, viable community and employment opportunities exist for people with disabilities affected by the change. “All eyes will be on Maryland as one of the first states to end this discriminatory practice. People On the Go will continue its important work to advocate for better community options for people with disabilities” added Capone.  

MCDD Newsletter 2016: Issue Two