Seattle $15 Hourly Wage OK

A federal appeals court allowed Seattle’s minimum wage law, which increases pay to $15 per hour in stages, to proceed in a ruling Friday.

The 2014 law raised the minimum wage in steps according to two schedules for large employers (more than 500 workers) and small employers (less than 500 workers).  Some franchise businesses as large employers. The challenge to the law came from the International Franchise Association, which disagreed with its members’ classification as large employers and sought an injunction to block the law’s enforcement.

The 9th U.S. Circuit court of Appeals upheld the city’s actions, finding the IFA did not show the injunction would be in the public interest or that the Seattle law violated the Constitution’s commerce clause.

The court upheld a trial court ruling that there was insufficient evidence of a burden on interstate commerce or a violation of equal protection under the Constitution.

Under the Seattle statute, the minimum wage would rise to $15 for large employers in 2017, while small business would have until 2021 to meet the increase.

The city based its large employer definition on the number of employees of the entire company, not how many were in Washington or even whether the company was headquartered in Seattle.

Large employers must raise wages from the current $11 per hour minimum to $13 per hour in January 2016 and $15 per hour in January 2017.  Small employers currently have a $10 per hour minimum which must increase by 50 cents per hour each year until it hits $13.50 in 2020 and the final increase to $15 per hour will be in January 2021.

Case: International Franchise Association v. Seattle, No. 15-35209


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