Congressman Gregg Harper's 24-year-old son, Livingston, has an intellectual disability called Fragile X syndrome. His family has always reminded him of the following truth.
"If you have special needs, you're no different than everybody else," explained Harper. "And you can do great things. You can do important things and you don't put a limitation on that."
A federal law says otherwise. One provision can be a roadblock for disabled workers, regardless of how much family support they have.
"We under the law, a 1938 law, allow workers to be paid a sub-minimum wage, sometimes cents on the hour to do work," said Harper.
Here's how it works. If they want, employers can apply for special wage certificates. Those certificates allow them to legally pay workers with disabilities less money.
"What happens is you have guaranteed a cycle of poverty for these workers who will always be dependent upon the government," Harper described. "Yet some of the executives are paid $4,000 to $5,000 a year in compensation."
Harper wants to see that part of the law phased out. He's now introduced the Fair Wages for Workers With Disabilities Act. He calls the current law a form of wage discrimination.
"It never recognizes that these who are disabled can do real work and that they should be able to be in a situation to earn a livable wage," he said.
Meanwhile, the congressman is preparing to watch Livingston graduate from a special program at Mississippi State University. The family doesn't want him to ever have to deal with different wages when he gets into the working world post-grad.
Monday, September 15 2014 5:39 PM EDT2014-09-15 21:39:25 GMT
Horrific details of a southern Indiana homicide were released Monday, including allegations that Joseph Oberhansley ate portions of Tammy Jo Blanton's brain, heart and lungs after stabbing her to death.More >>
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Monday, September 15 2014 10:02 PM EDT2014-09-16 02:02:47 GMT
The Madison County Sheriff's Department has made an arrest of a drug dealer who has allegedly been distributing 25i, the synthetic LSD. Madison County Sheriff Randy Tucker says that Kaleb K. ChhabraMore >>
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Miss Mississippi, Jasmine Murray competed in swimsuit and evening wear preliminaries Tuesday night. The winners in the first night of preliminary competition were, Miss Ohio, Mackenzie Bart in Talent,More >>
Wednesday night it was Talent night where Miss Mississippi sang, Something's Gotta Hold On Me, which she also sang at the Miss Mississippi Pageant in July.More >>