Seattle Minimum Wage Update

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Lauren Parris Watts reviewed the implementation of the newly passed Seattle $15 Minimum Wage Ordinance at the latest Helsell Fetterman Employment Law Breakfast on June 3. We promised to keep out attendees informed about ongoing developments on this issue. The following is a quick rundown of the known challenges to the Ordinance.

  • The Independent Franchise Association has filed a lawsuit in US Federal Court challenging the ordinance on a number of bases as to its impact on franchisees. The plaintiffs believe that franchises are unfairly treated under the ordinance by treating them as “large” business despite court rulings that have held that franchises are independent businesses not operated by brand corporation headquarters. The plaintiffs assert a number of violations of the United States and Washington Constitutions, including violations of the Commerce Clause, Equal Protection, the State Privileges and Immunities Clause and trademark law. We will be watching and reporting on developments as this suit moves forward. The franchisees state their position at
  • Sustainable Wages Seattle is moving forward with Initiative 1358, the Fair and Uniform Minimum Wage Act, which would require wages to be uniform throughout the state and for wages, and other labor ordinances be set by the Legislature rather than . Sustainable Wages seeks to have this issue before state wide voters in the November 2014 election. The present their position at
  • Tim Eyman has filed a similar initiative to be addressed in 2015 state wide balloting. While this filing has garnered a fair amount of publicity, no web site is available for reference as yet.
  • Forward Seattle is pursuing a Referendum to compel the City to refer the Ordinance to a vote of King County Seattle residents. Forward Seattle must gather sufficient signatures by 30 days from June 3. Their position is set forth at

We will be monitoring these efforts to keep clients aware of developments.

About the Authors

Karen Kalzer

Ms. Kalzer practices employment and education law with an emphasis on defending complex litigation for communities of faith, non-profits, schools and private employers.

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