Giant leap in St. Louis city minimum wage is imminent

Employers in St. Louis City should prepare for an imminent increase in the minimum wage from $7.70 to $10 per hour. On Tuesday, the Missouri Supreme Court issued its direction toRobert Ortbals lift an injunction blocking the City’s minimum wage ordinance from taking effect. The trial court that issued the injunction must now lift the injunction—which can happen at any time. Once the injunction is lifted, the minimum wage will immediately increase to $10. The St. Louis Mayor’s office expects the injunction to be lifted within the next week.

This week’s court action follows a February 2017 opinion from the Missouri Supreme Court reinstating the St. Louis City minimum wage law that hikes the city’s minimum wage to $11 per hour by 2018. Originally enacted in 2015, the law had been invalidated by a trial judge hours before becoming effective.

As originally passed, the city’s law provided for graduated increases to the minimum wage:

  • October 15, 2015 - $8.25 per hour
  • January 1, 2016 - $9 per hour
  • January 1, 2017 - $10 per hour
  • January 1, 2018 - $11 per hour

Because this phase-in period never occurred, after the February ruling, then-Mayor Francis Slay indicated that the Mayor’s office would issue implementation guidance so that businesses could manage the increase. Unfortunately, that guidance was never issued, and the City is now under a new administration. Yesterday, Mayor Slay's successor, Lyda Krewson, announced that there will be no implementation schedule and that the $10 minimum wage will take effect as soon as the injunction is lifted.

St. Louis.flickrCC.Joel

Missouri’s statewide minimum wage is currently $7.70 and subject to annual adjustments based on increases or decreases in the cost of living. Beginning January 1, 2019, the City’s minimum wage will be increased annually to track the inflation rate.

In response to the February ruling, the Missouri legislature has been considering a bill that would preempt the City ordinance. That bill was fast-tracked in the Missouri House, but has stalled in the Senate. Legislators have said that they still expect the preemption bill to pass and become law during the current legislative session, but they do not expect it to do so before the $10 wage takes effect.

Unfortunately, these developments leave St. Louis City employers with few good options because $10 will be the law in the City—even if it is short-lived, and, ultimately, preempted.

Image Credit: Photo of St. Louis from flickr, Creative Commons license, by Joel.

Robin Shea has 30 years' experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act). 
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