Real Work for Real Pay: Employment and People With Disabilities

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People with disabilities want to do real jobs for real money. Some laws and policies make it much harder for us to do real jobs for real money. Some laws and policies make it easier. 

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is an advocacy organization that fights for the rights of autistic people. This includes the right to real jobs. We created this page and its connected pages to tell you what you need to know to understand the fight for real jobs. 

On this page, we will go over the key laws and regulations you need to know about to understand the key issue pages. (We will explain what a regulation is in the “Key Regulations” section.) Each key issue page covers an important subject related to employment that disability rights advocates need your help with. 

Key Laws 

There is an important law called the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Fair Labor Standards Act does helpful things for U.S. workers to make their lives better. One of the things the FLSA does is create a minimum wage. The minimum wage is the smallest amount that your boss is allowed to pay you for your work. 

The Fair Labor Standards Act leaves out some people. This is because of a part of the law called Section 14(c). Section 14(c) lets businesses with a special piece of paper – called a 14(c) certificate – pay people with disabilities less than the minimum wage. This is unfair. For more information on ending Section 14(c), you can read the “Ending 14(c)” page. 

Another important law is the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). WIOA does helpful things that make people with disabilities more likely to get real jobs. WIOA also makes it harder to send people with disabilities into places where they make less than minimum wage. We want to make sure this law works well. For more information on WIOA, you can read the “Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act” page. 

Employment First is an idea about how to help people with disabilities get good jobs. Employment First says that the government should help every person with a disability who wants to work find real jobs in the community for real money. Some states have their own Employment First laws.  For more information, you can read the “Employment First” page. 

Key Regulations 

Regulations are rules government agencies make. WIOA’s vocational rehabilitation (VR) regulations help define what counts as a real job in the community. They also help explain how and in what ways WIOA makes it harder to put people with disabilities in segregated jobs. 

The U.S. Department of Education created regulations which explain what pre-employment transition services are. Pre-Employment Transition Services (PETS) are services that have to be given to you before you leave school. For more information on PETS, read the subsection The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and Ensuring Our Right to Competitive Integrated Employment. 

ASAN Toolkits and Resources on Employment 

ASAN Position Statements and Work on Employment 

ASAN Action Alerts on Employment