Bill to Repeal Exemption for People With Disabilities From Minimum Wage Requirements Signed Into Law
Outdated law allowed payment of sub-minimum wage for certain individuals
Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – The Legislature took action this year to repeal an outdated law that allowed for the payment of sub-minimum wage to certain individuals based on their disability. In a ceremony today at the Washington Place, Governor David Ige signed the bill making this discrimination illegal.
"With today's passage of SB 793, the State of Hawaiʻi will be correcting an outdated provision in our Minimum Wage Law that no longer serves its original intent and actually discriminates against those with disabilities," said Representative Richard H.K. Onishi, Chair of the House Labor & Tourism Committee. "I would like to thank the advocates and my colleagues for their support as this measure moved through the 2021 Legislature. I am honored to have been able to support this legislation and to participate in Governor Ige's signing of this measure into law."
The House/Senate Conference Committee reviewing the bill found that laws allowing the payment of sub-minimum wage based on an individual's disability status are based on a provision in the Fair Labor Standards Act that was enacted in 1938 to create a platform to train and prepare individuals with disabilities to gain open-market competitive jobs. The Committee reported that these laws are archaic and no longer serve their original purpose.
Testimony supporting the bill submitted by the State Council on Developmental Disabilities said that under the old law, being “disabled” or “handicapped” allowed an individual to be considered exempt from minimum wage. The Council's testimony reports that the use of sub-minimum wage is discriminatory against those with disabilities and that the sub-minimum wage as an employment tool is a clear violation of the civil rights of individuals with disabilities.