California to Phase Out Sub-Minimum Wage Program for Disabled Workers

Currently, there are thousands of workers in California who are allowed to be paid less than minimum wage for their work simply because they are disabled. Beginning in 2022, a new law in California will phase out the program that allows employers to pay their workers less than minimum wage if they have a physical or mental disability. This is one of many new labor laws, and if you believe that your rights have been violated as an employee you may have a case against your employer. Talk to an experienced California employment law attorney in your area today to learn more about your legal options.

Current Disability Wage Law

Under the current law, employers are allowed to file for a 14(c) certificate, which allows them to pay employees with physical or mental disabilities less than minimum wage. It is estimated that around 12,000 workers that have a physical or mental disability in California are being paid a sub-minimum wage right now because of this outdated practice. Anecdotal evidence from workers suggests that some disabled employees make as little as one or two dollars per hour for identical work that is paid at the minimum wage for non-disabled workers.

New Disability Wage Law

Senate Bill 639, also known as SB 639, will phase out the program that allows employers to pay their physically and mentally disabled employees less than minimum wage. Under the new law, no new special 14(c) licenses will be issued in California after January 1, 2022, and the program will be completely phased out by January 1, 2025. Employers that have existing 14(c) licenses will have the option to relicense during the interim period, so long as they meet specific benchmarks established by the new law, but those licenses will also expire in 2025. Once the program has been completely phased out, all California employers will be required to pay their employees, regardless of disability status, at least minimum wage.

Why This Law is Important

With the signage of SB 639, California becomes the thirteenth state to end the practice of allowing sub-minimum wage for disabled employees. Not only has this been lauded as an important employment law, but many see this as a civil rights issue, as well. Recently, the United States Commission on Civil Rights recommended to Congress that this program at the federal level be repealed because of its civil rights violations. As this law also makes it illegal to pay disabled workers sub-minimum wage for their work as of 2025, it also provides a legal outlet for workers to seek recourse if their employer does not begin to pay them minimum wage.

Call or Contact an Employment Lawyer Now

The phasing out of the sub-minimum wage payment of disabled workers in California is one of many new labor laws being implemented across the state. If you believe that your labor rights have been violated by your employer, call or contact a knowledgeable employment lawyer in your area today.