SCOTUS Denies Local Seattle Franchises’ Challenge to Minimum Wage Law

Posted: May 02, 2016 12:50 PM

In a blow to Seattle businesses, the Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to the state’s controversial $15/hour minimum wage law. The law, which went into effect in April 2015, demands that a business franchise of 500 employees or more honor the minimum wage hike. It was the first state in the nation to make such a wage jump.

At the time of the law’s passage, IFA President and CEO Steve Caldeira called it discriminatory.

“Hundreds of small, locally-owned businesses and thousands of their employees are unfairly threatened by Seattle’s new law. We are not seeking special treatment for franchisees, we are just seeking equal treatment. The city’s minimum wage statute arbitrarily and illegally discriminates against franchisees and significantly increases their labor costs in ways that will harm their businesses, employees, consumers and Seattle’s economy,” said Steve Caldeira, IFA president & CEO. “We hope the court will block the ordinance to save jobs and prevent Seattle from unfairly singling out one type of business – a franchise – for punitive treatment.”

In International Franchise Association v. City of Seattle, local franchises argued the law would place a heavy burden on local businesses, placing them in the same boat as larger companies like McDonald’s, instead of allowing them to continue operating as independent entities. Union officials pushed back, arguing franchisees enjoy special advantages that aren’t offered to other businesses. Luckily for the "Fight for 15" crowd, the hike doesn't look like it's going anywhere after SCOTUS put the case to a halt. 

Seattle is also reeling from May Day protests, where angry pro-unionists carried Molotov cocktails, bricks and other weapons to “peacefully” demonstrate on behalf of workers’ rights.