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Capitol Correspondence - 08.06.18

NCD Chairman Pens Op-Ed on 14c Programs

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On August 31, 2018, National Council on Disability (NCD) Chairman Neil Romano an op-ed in The Hill, stating:

“In 1938, there were no federally protected civil rights for people with disabilities, nor even a right to a public education. However, since that time, society and people with disabilities have come to expect far more out of their lives than past public policies allowed. And employment should be no exception.

The continuation of 14(c) says that people with disabilities are a black hole for society — that they’re not capable of doing much, that they don’t warrant investment, and that they aren’t going anywhere. A self-advocate with Down syndrome who has spoken poignantly against 14(c) said that the “sub-minimum” in “sub-minimum wages” communicates “subhuman” to people, and who wants to be thought of as subhuman?

Although I have little patience for well-paid lobbyists defending the continued practice of paying people with disabilities pennies an hour, I have great compassion for the families who have loved ones with disabilities affected by 14(c) and are scared at what changes may entail for them.

These families made choices I believe they sincerely thought were best at the time, and they should never be vilified. They should take heart seeing what is possible with a better policy. A small handful of states and a larger number of individual providers have begun making changes away from the 14(c) work model to alternative models with records of success.


So long as it remains legal to pay people with disabilities less than the minimum wage, little pressure exists to invest in alternate models. If paying our fellow Americans with disabilities pennies an hour under the auspices of “training” (that seemingly never ends) continues, our federal policy message to them will remain that despite the passage of civil rights laws, despite the advancements in the education of people with disabilities, and despite our national march towards equality for all human beings, people with disabilities will never be viewed as inherently equal and deserving of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.   

It’s far past time to do better than that. It’s time to phase out 14(c) of the FLSA.”

As members may recall from previous articles, ANCOR has been following the efforts of NCD this year to explore the 14(c) program through a report due out in September 2018. ANCOR has met with Chair Romano and continues to attend all convenings on the discussion of the future of the 14(c) program and ANCOR’s Government Relations Advisory Committee is actively having discussions about these policy developments.