Sen. Julie A. Morrison

SPRINGFIELD – In response to a Springfield-based nonprofit’s previous decision to withhold paychecks from employees with developmental disabilities, State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) held a hearing in hopes to further examine sub-minimum wage.

“There are thousands of people in the state of Illinois who are anxious to work,” Morrison said. “We need to lead by example and provide good options for those who not only need to work, but want to work.”

The joint Senate and House Human Services Committee was joined by members of the Department of Human Services and Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities to discuss sub-minimum wage employment for people with developmental disabilities.

The committee follows Land of Lincoln Goodwill’s decision to withhold paychecks from employees with disabilities due to the minimum wage increase. The now-former CEO of the organization also said in July that she would potentially lay off employees with disabilities to cut costs.

Sub-minimum wage is legally paying certain individuals less than minimum wage. Land of Lincoln Goodwill has received approval from the U.S. Department of Labor to pay sub-minimum wage rates to workers with disabilities under a 1938 provision in the Fair Labor Standards Act. However, six states no longer permit sub-minimum wage rates.

“It’s important to guarantee equal protection under the law,” said Kimberly Mercer-Schleider, executive director of the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities. “Study after study shows that workers with disabilities are dependable and productive and valuable to the work environment. They are loyal employees.”