HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – An outdated law that allowed employers in Hawaii to pay people with disabilities less than the minimum wage was struck off the books Wednesday.
The change has been hailed as having serious consequences for the 26,000 people on the islands who have a disability.
“People with disabilities would be guaranteed to earn the minimum wage and it would restore justice, dignity and respect to our state’s wage laws,” said Governor David Ige in order to abolish the old law.
Lawmakers said the move made it legal for employers to pay people with disabilities less than the minimum wage – something that lawmakers and advocates believe violate civil rights.
“It is one of those issues that is very discriminatory,” said State Representative Richard Onishi.
“The original intention was to give them a job where they could do something during the day,” said Zosimo Arista of the Hawaii State Council for Developmental Disabilities.
Lawmakers say no Hawaiian employer pays less than the minimum wage, but according to reports, some organizations on the mainland have paid only 4 cents an hour to people with disabilities.
Hawaii’s minimum wage is $ 10.10 an hour while the state minimum wage is $ 7.25.
“That definitely made my skin tingle and it annoyed me that they were paid less than everyone else simply because of a disability,” said Arista.
“It’s shocking,” he added.
Pili Teo of the Self Advisory Council says he was a dishwasher in high school when he found out his colleagues were getting the minimum wage, but he was much less.
“I did not know that. For me, why should I work here, ”said Teo.
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