Yes, employers can legally pay certain workers a wage below federal minimum

The 13-year anniversary of the last time the federal minimum wage is July 24. The Verify team is answering questions about wages.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — July 24 marked 13 years since Congress last increased the federal minimum wage. It sits now at $7.25 per hour. 

But does every working American get that wage?


Can employers pay certain workers below the federal minimum wage?



This is true.

Yes, employers can legally pay certain workers a wage below what the federal minimum sets.


In 2009, Congress passed the Fair Standards Act, setting the minimum wage at $7.25 an hour for non-exempt employees.

But the law also outlined exceptions.

DOL outlined workers with disabilities, full-time students, student learners, and some people younger than the age of 20 can be paid less than the federal minimum wage.

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The most common example of the minimum wage exception is tipped workers.

"The way that the tip minimum is supposed to work is you're still supposed to come out at least making the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour," Pardo said. "Your employer is supposed to ensure that you at least make $7.25 an hour, when you calculate in your tipped minimum of $2.13 plus tips."

Another example is a worker with a disability. The law says employers can pay them less if they can't perform a job as well as a person who is not disabled. 

South Carolina lawmakers passed a law this year overriding that exception. The new law bans employers from paying workers with disabilities below minimum wage.

States have the freedom to do that.

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VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit /verify.

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