New legislation provides equal pay for those with disabilities in Delaware
DELAWARE, – “When it comes to equality, is there really a better measure of equality than being paid the same as your peers for the same work,” said Executive Director of State Council for People With Disabilities John McNeal.
Governor John Carney’s signature makes House Bill 122 law. It will raise the minimum wages for those with disabilities, a move advocates say, has been long overdue.
“What was signed today undoes what I would consider 83 years of discrimination,” said McNeal. “While they absolutely want opportunities for jobs, paying them under minimum wage essentially just sentences people living with disabilities to living in poverty,” said Executive Director of ACLU Delaware Mike Brickner.
For Emmanuel Jenkins, who’s living with cerebral palsy, he says it’s a different story. Although he wasn’t personally impacted by previous law, he’s seen it’s impacts firsthand.
“People with disabilities working in shelters or warehouse jobs and getting paid under minimum wage and at the end of a week can’t afford a bag of chips,” said Community Relations Officer for Delaware Developmental Disabilities Council Emmanuel Jenkins.
This law doesn’t stop there, as advocates say this move will also have a positive economic impact on the first state.
“More people with disabilities can affordable their own apartments, can afford their on healthcare, can afford better therapy and medications and also just live more comfortable lives,” said Brickner.
Ultimately, I’m told this with this piece of legislation, having a disability won’t be their only identity.
“Statistics out there show that people with disabilities that are employed are extremely dependable and probably some of the most dependable workers we have out there,” said McNeal.
“We’re in the 21st century. It’s time to ensure that people with disabilities have careers to be able to put away for a future,” said Jenkins.
The bill is also called the Jamie Wolfe Employment Act, honoring a long-time advocate for people with disabilities. The bill is set to go into effect by July 2023.