Fri Aug 19 2016
Photograph from the Star Tribune showing man with disability picking up trash.

ICI’s Kelly Nye-Lengerman, a researcher on integrated employment, was quoted in a recent Star Tribune article titled, “Minnesota scrambles to act on new rules about pay for disabled workers .” The article reveals how Minnesota employers are hurriedly responding to new federal rules that largely end the practice of paying employees with disabilities less than the minimum wage. Although President Obama signed the law limiting subminimum wages two years ago, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has yet to formally notify sheltered workshops and other employers of how they are expected to comply with the new rules and the state’s enforcement process.

“We’re in the final hour — this is now the law — and everyone is shocked and amazed,” Nye-Lengerman told the newspaper. “But we all knew this was coming. The consistent messaging for years has been that states have to move toward integration and away from segregated workplaces that pay less than minimum wage.”

The new rules mean that trained staff funded by the state will now fan out across Minnesota to meet with workers and assess how many of them would like a job in the community and might need additional services, according to the Star Tribune. Submimimum wages often keep employees with disabilities well below the federal poverty line and community jobs could raise their living standards and job satisfaction.

(Photo source: Star Tribune, copyright 2016)