Judge Rules (Again) That Minneapolis Minimum Wage Law is Valid

Hennepin County District Judge Susan Burke has issued an order finding that Minneapolis’ $15 minimum wage ordinance is valid.  The ruling resulted from Judge Burke’s denial of a request by Graco Corp., the only remaining challenger to the ordinance, for an injunction delaying the implementation of the new requirement.

This ruling was not surprising.  As we reported this past December in our post entitled Judge says $15.00 Minimum Wage in Minneapolis Applies to All Employers Starting Jan. 1, Judge Burke previously denied various parties’ request for a temporary restraining order to prevent the City from enforcing its ordinance.  This latest action was simply the next step in the process and there was little reason to expect that Judge Burke would change her mind

What the Ruling Says

In her opinion, Judge Burke determined that the ordinance was a valid exercise of the City’s regulatory authority as a “home rule charter city.”  She further concluded that the ordinance did not conflict with Minnesota’s Fair Labor Standards Act, which has established a statewide minimum wage of $9.65 for “large employers” and $7.87 for “small employers.”

Judge Burke rejected Graco’s argument that the minimum wage ordinance had an impermissible “extraterritorial reach” – that is, it improperly applied to employers located outside the city.  Judge Burke noted that the ordinance “only applies to work actually performed within the city limits of Minneapolis.”  Specifically, the minimum wage ordinance applies only if an employee works in the city for 2 or more hours in a given week.

Thus, all employers (regardless of whether they are based in Minneapolis) are subject to the minimum wage ordinance if their employees work two or more hours in the city in a given week.  Employers must already have begun to phase in the new minimum wage rates according to the schedule we listed in the post cited above.

Compare This to the Sick Leave Ordinance

Judge Burke’s decision that the minimum wage ordinance applies to employers residing outside the city limits may actually impact similar litigation that is currently moving forward in regard to the Minneapolis sick leave ordinance.  Hennepin County District Judge Mel Dickstein is scheduled to rule in August on whether that ordinance applies to employers outside the city limits, and he may look to Judge Burke’s decision for guidance.

If Judge Dickstein rules that the sick leave ordinance does not apply to non-resident employers, the reasoning of that decision might spur Graco to continue to challenge Judge Burke’s ruling on minimum wage.

Bottom Line

Given this decision, all employers (regardless of location) are subject to the Minneapolis $15 minimum wage ordinance and are required to begin phasing in the new minimum as directed by the ordinance.  We will await further developments.