Seattle Sued by Trade Group Over $15-an-Hour Minimum Wage

Seattle was sued by a group representing franchise businesses over its $15-an-hour minimum wage, the highest of any big U.S. city, approved last month.

The International Franchise Association said the ordinance raising the city’s minimum wage should be blocked from taking effect because it violates federal and state commerce laws, according to a complaint filed today in federal court in Seattle.

The minimum wage “unfairly and irrationally discriminates” in particular against small, independently owned franchise businesses by treating them as “large employers” no matter how few workers they employ, according to the complaint.

“It’s our position that the ordinance is constitutional and we intend to vigorously defend the city against the lawsuit,” John Schochet, a spokesman for the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, said in an e-mail.

Seattle’s city council last month voted to raise the hourly minimum wage to $15, more than double the federal minimum of $7.25.

The increase is scheduled to be phased in starting next year, when the required hourly minimum jumps to $11 for large employers, then escalates to $15 for all businesses by 2021.

The case is International Franchise Association v. City of Seattle, 14-cv-00848, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington (Seattle).

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