The Missouri Supreme Court on Feb. 28, 2017, upheld St. Louis’ minimum wage ordinance, over the arguments of business groups who claimed the ordinance was preempted by Missouri state law. The decision means the minimum wage in St. Louis will increase to $10 per hour this year and $11 in 2018.
In a decision by Judge Laura Denvir Stith, the court said the city ordinance does not conflict with the Missouri statute establishing a floor for employee wages, but “simply raise[s] that floor for local employees based on local conditions.” The current Missouri minimum wage is $7.70 per hour, and the federal minimum wage is $7.25.
Not long after St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay signed the ordinance on Aug. 28, 2015, businesses and organizations including the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Missouri Restaurant Association and the Missouri Retailers Association sued the city over the new law. The challengers argued the city government didn’t have the authority to override state law on minimum wages. The Missouri Supreme Court disagreed and held that while the purpose of the state statute is to set a floor for minimum wages, “nothing in the law suggests the state also wanted to protect employers by setting a maximum minimum wage.”
The court further stated that there is no conflict preemption when a local law simply supplements state law and found that the challengers were misguided in thinking Missouri’s minimum wage law directs everyone to pay no more than the state minimum wage.
After the ruling, St. Louis city officials said in a statement that while businesses will be provided “a reasonable grace period to adjust to the new minimum wage rate,” they could have their business licenses or occupancy permits revoked in the event of noncompliance.