For a Law360 article published Jan. 29, 2024, Constangy partner James Coleman was quoted sharing insights on state and local “home rule” laws related to minimum wage as a Pennsylvania county faces disputes over how its minimum wage thresholds are decided.

Specifically, the article addressed an announcement by Allegheny County, PA, executive Sara Innamorato seeking to increase the minimum wage for full-time county workers to $18 an hour in 2024, followed by annual increases up to at least $22. This news brought to light issues surrounding local governments' so-called home rule requirements and who has the power to decide pay issues.

The Allegheny County Council had passed an ordinance raising the minimum wage for county workers despite a veto by Innamorato's predecessor, Rich Fitzgerald, who later sued to block the ordinance. A state court found that only the county executive, not the council, can set the minimum wage for county workers under the county's Home Rule Charter and Pennsylvania labor law. The article reported some experts saying home rule can make efforts to raise wages more complicated, and localities need to be watchful of attempts by states to intervene, including on wage policies.

A similar situation to what happened in Allegheny County could play out elsewhere, explained Coleman. "I think this is unique, but that doesn't mean that it couldn't be duplicated in similar circumstances. When you really get down to it, the case was about separation of powers."

For the full article, please click here.


Back to Page