In a recent opinion (The City of Miami Beach, Florida vs. Florida Retail Federation, Inc.), the Third District Court of Appeal for Florida has held that Florida law prohibits Florida municipalities from passing a minimum wage that is higher than the state minimum wage.
In June of 2016, the City of Miami Beach passed a wage ordinance that would increase the minimum wage within the city to more than $2 per hour ($10.31) above the state minimum wage effective January 1, 2018. A lawsuit was filed by several industry groups in December of 2016 challenging the local minimum wage ordinance.
In March of 2017, the trial court found in favor of the industry groups and held that the local minimum wage was invalid because a 2003 state law (section 218.077 of the Florida Statutes which states ““a political subdivision may not establish, mandate, or otherwise require an employer to pay a minimum wage, other than a state or federal minimum wage.”) prohibits Florida municipalities from setting their own minimum wage rates. The City appealed the trial court’s ruling to the Third District Court of Appeal for Florida.
The appellate court agreed with the trial court and found that (1) the City of Miami Beach’s local minimum wage ordinance was invalid and (2) Florida municipalities cannot establish their own local minimum wage. The City plans to appeal the ruling to the Florida Supreme Court.
Take Home for Employers
At this point in time, the City of Miami Beach’s local ordinance is invalid and did not go into effect on January 1st. However, it is recommended that Florida employers keep a close eye on the potential appeal to see if this position changes.
It’s a wage and hour obligation that’s familiar to all employers – the requirement to pay employees at least minimum wage for every hour worked. It seems like a pretty simple obligation to meet, right? Not necessarily. With different state minimum wages and numerous localities passing local minimum wages, mistakes are easy to make and can be quite costly – as two rental car companies recently learned.
Washington State Employees of two nationwide rental car companies (Hertz and Thrifty) filed a class action lawsuit against their employer claiming that the employers failed to pay the employees’ at least minimum wage in accordance with the minimum wage ordinance in SeaTac, Washington, which increased the minimum wage for Hospitality and Transportation employees in SeaTac to $15.00 per hour in 2015 (and adjusts the minimum wage for inflation in subsequent years).
This lawsuit was recently settled for $2 million dollars.
Why Do I Care?
As of July 2017, over 30 localities* have adopted local minimum wages above their state minimum wage. If you have operations in any of these localities, then you are required to pay all employees at least the local minimum wage. It is recommended that you check the minimum wage in your locality and verify that you are in compliance with any local ordinance relating to minimum wage.
* Localities with local minimum wage:
- Arizona: Flagstaff.
- California: Berkeley, Cupertino, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Los Altos, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, Malibu, Milpitas, Mountain View, Oakland, Palo Alto, Pasadena, Richmond, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, San Leandro, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Monica, and Sunnyvale.
- Illinois: Chicago and Cook County.
- Maine: Portland.
- Maryland: Montgomery County and Prince George’s County.
- New Mexico: Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, Las Cruces, Santa Fe City, and Santa Fe County.
- New York : New York City, Nassau County, Suffolk County, and Westchester County
- Oregon: Portland Urban Growth Boundary.
- Washington: SeaTac, Seattle, and Tacoma.
Effective August 28, 2017, Missouri’s law banning localities from enacting a minimum wage that is higher than the state minimum wage (House Bill 1194). This law also prohibits Missouri localities from enacting a menu of employment benefits for private sector workplaces that exceed “state laws, rules, or regulations.”
The most significant effect of this new law, it will nullify the St. Louis’s minimum wage ordinance, which went into effect on May 5, 2017 and increased the minimum wage in St. Louis to $10.00 per hour. As a result, starting August 28, 2017, St. Louis employers can “roll back” employee wages to their pre-May 5, 2017 levels. If an employer chooses to take that course of action, affected employees must receive at least 30 days’ advanced notice of the change.
Effective March 30, 2017, Iowa municipalities are prohibited from adopting any ordinance providing for terms or conditions of employment (eg minimum or living wages, employment leave, hiring practices, employment benefits and scheduling practices) that exceeds or conflicts with state or federal laws. This change is the result of House File 295.
This new law affects all counties with minimum wage laws, including Johnson, Polk, Linn and Wapello counties (all of whom recently passed their own minimum wage laws). This new law nullifies those local minimum wage laws.
While this new law creates a uniform minimum wage (currently $7.25) for the state of Iowa, employers in Johnson, Polk, Linn and Wapello counties (who already complied with the higher minimum wage rates) are left with the decision to keep or retract the increased minimum wages for their employees.
On Monday, December 19, 2016, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed Senate Bill 331 into law. this new law prohibits Ohio cities, counties and/or other municipalities from passing local minimum wages that are higher than Ohio’s state minimum wage rate (current $8.10 per hour for non-tipped employees).
In addition to prohibiting local minimum wages, the new law also gives Ohio’s private employers the exclusive right to govern matters concerning work hours, location of work, scheduling, and fringe benefits, including:
- The number of hours an employee is required to work or be on call;
- The time when an employee is required to work or be on call;
- The location where an employee is required to work;
- The amount of notification an employee receives of work schedule assignments or changes to work schedule assignments, including any addition or reduction of hours, cancellation of a shift, or change in the date or time of a work shift;
- Minimizing fluctuations in the number of hours an employee is scheduled to work on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis;
- Additional payment for reporting time when work is or becomes unavailable, for being on call for work, or for working a split shift;
- Whether an employer will provide advance notice of an employee’s initial work or shift schedule, notice of new schedules, or notice of changed schedules, including whether an employer will provide employees with predictive schedules;
- Whether an employer will provide additional hours of work to employees the employer currently employs before employing additional workers;
- Whether an employer will provide employees with fringe benefits, and the type and amount of those benefits.
This new law goes into effect on March 20, 2017.
Over the past couple of years, two Kentucky cities (Louisville and Lexington) passed local minimum wage laws which required employers within those cities to pay a higher minimum wage than Kentucky’s state minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. These higher local minimum wage laws were challenged in court by various business interests.
In a recent decision (Kentucky Restaurant Ass’n, et al. v. Louisville/Jefferson Cty. Metro Gov’t), the Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that the local minimum wage laws directly conflicted with the Kentucky minimum wage statute and were unenforceable. In other words, under Kentucky’s minimum wage law, Kentucky municipalities do not have the authority to implement laws establishing a higher minimum wage than the state minimum wage.
What this means for Kentucky employers
For now, Kentucky employers do not have to concern themselves with cities (or counties) passing a higher minimum wage than the state minimum wage. However, this reprieve may be short-lived, as government officials in both Louisville and Lexington have asked the Kentucky General Assembly to pass legislation authorizing cities to set a local minimum wage.
On September 16, 2015, the Missouri legislature overrode Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of House Bill 722, a measure that, among other things, prohibits Missouri cities from raising the local minimum wage. This new law prohibits a “political subdivision” of Missouri (e.g. a city, county, etc.) from establishing a local minimum wage that might exceed the Federal or State requirements. However, this new law does not preempt any local minimum wage ordinance that was in effect on or before August 28, 2015.