U.S. Supreme Court Allows Seattle’s Minimum Wage Law to Stand

The U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down a challenge by business groups in the Seattle area to the city’s law that will raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. This also affirms a lower court ruling, which also supported the law.

The law went into effect on April 2015, requiring businesses with more than 500 employees nationwide to raise their minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018. Smaller businesses with 500 workers or less have three more years than their larger-business counterparts to do so. Seattle was the first city to implement the $15 minimum wage, thanks to the backing of Working Washington, a coalition of labor and nonprofit groups.

The International Franchise Association filed a lawsuit in 2014 to “level the playing field” for the 600 franchise businesses that employ 19,000 people in the city, but, on March 2015, a federal judge in Seattle ruled in favor of the city. The case went to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the judge’s decision. The business group brought the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. On May 2, 2016, the highest court sided with the city.

The decision means that cities and states with similar minimum wage laws must treat the franchises as offshoots of its parent companies instead of independent small businesses. The International Franchise Association argued that the city should have not excluded local franchises of companies such as Burger King and McDonald’s from the small business aspect of the law.

Since the law passed, other cities such as San Francisco and states such as New York and California have passed similar legislation. In New York State, the current minimum wage is $9 an hour. Under the new law, it will increase statewide to $10.75 by the end of this year. It will increase by $1 a year for the next three years, reaching $13.75 by 2019. By 2020, it will be $14.50 and will reach $15 by 2021. For New York City, it will be different: the minimum wage will be $12 by the end of 2016 and will increase to $13.50 next year and $15 the year after that.

The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act requires that your employer pay you at least the minimum wage in addition to overtime. If you believe that you have not been compensated fairly as an employee, contact an experienced New York Employment Attorney attorney who will fight for your right to a fair wage. Contact Steven Mitchell Sack at (917) 371-8000.

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