Business

Franchise Association Takes Seattle Minimum-Wage Case to Supreme Court

The International Franchise Association says that its lawsuit against Seattle over its $15 minimum wage brings up enough legal questions that the Supreme Court should weigh in on the issue. The association maintains that the city's law unfairly treats franchisees the same as larger companies.

The International Franchise Association says that its lawsuit against Seattle over its $15 minimum wage brings up enough legal questions that the Supreme Court should weigh in on the issue. IFA maintains that the city’s law unfairly treats franchisees the same as larger companies.

One of the most prominent critics of Seattle’s minimum-wage law is taking its legal fight to the highest court in the land.

The International Franchise Association (IFA) this week filed a petition for a writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court to review its appeal against Seattle’s $15-minimum-wage law, which treats franchisees and large national companies the same.

IFA, which, along with five franchisees, first filed suit against the city in June 2014, emphasizes that it isn’t trying to prevent the full law from taking effect. Rather, the trade group wants to ensure the city is following legal precedent, which it argues treats franchisees as small employers. (By treating franchisees as legally the same as large employers, chains are required more raise their wages more quickly under the city’s law.)

The association argues that the city’s law violates both the Commerce Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

“Our appeal to the Supreme Court will be focused solely on the discriminatory treatment of franchisees under Seattle’s wage law and the motivation to discriminate against interstate commerce,” IFA President and CEO Robert Cresanti said in a news release.

Thus far, the association’s argument has struggled to find support in the courtroom. In March 2015, a federal court rejected IFA’s argument on the issue, and last September, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s ruling.

“The panel held that IFA did not show that it was likely to succeed on the merits or that a preliminary injunction was in the public interest,” the appeals court wrote in its decision, according to the Seattle Times.

But IFA’s Cresanti emphasized that there was enough debate over the issue throughout the federal court system that the Supreme Court should weigh in.

“The controlling Supreme Court precedent and the conflict among the decisions of the federal circuit courts have proven that a Supreme Court review of the Ninth Circuit’s decision is the appropriate next step,” Cresanti noted this week.

The city must file a response to the legal action within the next 30 days. The Supreme Court will decide whether to take on the case in the spring.

(iStock Editorial/Thinkstock)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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