Since Seattle adopted its minimum-wage law in 2015, employers have been allowed to seek special certificates to pay people with disabilities less. The City Council voted Monday to end the exceptions.
The Seattle City Council voted Monday to ban employers from paying people with disabilities less than the city’s minimum wages.
Seattle is the first city in the country to make the move, following the states of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maryland, according to the council.
Since the city adopted its minimum-wage law in 2015, employers have been allowed to seek special certificates to pay such workers less.
Members of the Seattle Commission for People with DisAbilities lobbied for ending the practice, describing it as blatantly discriminatory.
As of last summer, only two people were being paid subminimum wages under city-issued certificates, said Shaun Bickley, a commission co-chair.
“We should have the same labor rights as anyone else,” Bickley said in an interview.
In September, the city stopped issuing the certificates to employers as a matter of policy. The council voted 8-0 Monday to write the change into law.
“We’re saying that all work has dignity and all workers deserve the same respect,” Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda said.
Supporters have said they want to make the same modification to the state’s minimum-wage law.
People with concerns have asked whether the move could force some people with disabilities to work fewer hours or risk losing medical and financial benefits. But proponents say such concerns can be addressed.