As St. Louis native Yogi Berra famously remarked, “[i]t is not over until it’s over.” Yogi’s aphorism is certainly true with respect to the St. Louis Minimum Wage Ordinance. To recap, the Ordinance was passed in 2015, but a trial judge enjoined its implementation, and the minimum wage was not raised in St. Louis. However, in 2017, the Missouri Supreme Court reversed the trial court, and the Ordinance went into effect on May 5, 2017. The Missouri Legislature then stepped in on May 12, 2017 and passed a bill preempting the St. Louis ordinance, and a similar Kansas City ordinance. Specifically, the bill forbids any political subdivision, which includes any city, from enforcing a current ordinance or enacting a new one relating to the establishment of a minimum wage. The bill goes to Governor Greitens for his signature; he is expected to sign it. Because the bill does not have an emergency clause, the earliest it could go into effect is August 28, 2017.
What are the takeaways?
- Employers in St. Louis must continue to comply with the Ordinance, at least through August 28, 2017. This means continuing to pay a minimum hourly wage of $10.00, which will rise to $11.00 in 2018. An approved Notice about the Ordinance’s provisions also must be posted and provided, in the first pay check, to any employees receiving the higher minimum wage.
- Monitor what is a fluid situation. While Governor Greitens is expected to sign the bill pre-empting the St. Louis minimum wage, special interest groups may try to influence him to veto it. It is unclear whether a veto could be overridden by the Legislature. Even if the bill is signed by Governor Greitens, special interest groups are expected to file litigation challenging the state’s ability to preempt minimum/living wage ordinances by municipalities like the one in St. Louis.
- In summary, stay the course on payment of the St. Louis minimum wage, but be aware that the landscape will likely change dramatically on or about August 28, 2017.