Arguments Challenging Minneapolis Minimum Wage Ordinance Heard Friday

December 01, 2017 12:34 PM

A lawsuit challenging Minneapolis' new $15 minimum wage ordinance headed to court Friday.

The lawsuit alleges the ordinance is unlawful because it conflicts with existing state law.

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Friday morning, a judge heard arguments from those involved in the minimum wage lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis. It was filed in early November by several organizations, including the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

"The ordinance puts and incredible burden on Minnesota employers, creates a direct conflict with state law and seeks to impose and extra territorial burden on employers who are not based in the city," Chris Laurus, an attorney for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, said.

The ordinance was approved in June and takes effect on Jan. 1. It would mean businesses with more than 100 people would have five years to raise wages to $15 per hour.

Businesses with fewer than 100 people would have seven years to reach the new minimum wage.

"We await the court's decision on our application for a temporary injunction and what we have asked the court to do ensure that this ordinance does not go in to effect on Jan 1," Laurus said.

Opponents said they're concerned it will hurt local businesses. In fact, it's the reason why Whiskey Junction Blues Bar in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood announced Thursday it's shutting down after 12 years.

RELATED: Citing Minimum Wage Change, Owner says Whiskey Junction to Close

"It's not just the $15 minimum wage increase that's the issue," Sara O'Shea, with Whiskey Junction, said. "It's the increase without a tip credit which is the main thing."

However, city officials told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they did extensive studies on the impact on small and large businesses.

The deputy city coordinator said Whiskey Junction's closure may be a bit premature.

"Right now, minimum wage isn't going into effect for businesses like Whiskey Junction until July of next year so it's a little premature, I think, to be making determinations like that before seeing what the impact of the policy will be," Deputy City Coordinator Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde said.

The hearing took place at 9 a.m., however a decision was not expected Friday.

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