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Legislative Victory Ends Subminiumum Wage in Maryland!

EEA Bill Signing
Governor Larry Hogan, surrounded by disability advocates, signs the Ken capone Equal Employment Act on May 19, 2016.

On May 19, 2016, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed into law the Ken Capone Equal Employment Act, which ends the legal practice of paying Maryland workers with disabilities less than minimum wage.

Ken Capone, self-advocate for whom the bill is named and public policy director for People On the Go of Maryland, said, “The Equal Employment Act is very important for the civil rights of persons with developmental disabilities. I’m thankful for all the support we’ve had from the community in ending this unfair practice.”

Section 14c of the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act includes a provision dating back to the 1930s that allows employers to pay people with disabilities less than minimum wage. In Maryland, more than 40 organizations hold 14c certificates. Defenders of 14c make arguments similar to those who oppose raising the minimum wage across the nation – that increased wages lead to job losses, forcing employers to avoid hiring people with disabilities under the assumption that they will be unable to meet productivity standards. Under the new law, 14c programs will be phased out over the course of four years, with a plan that includes fiscal incentives for 14c employment programs to transition from sheltered workshops to community-based, fair-wage employment.

MCDD Newsletter 2016: Issue Two