Advance Notice: Briefs

Judge delays minimum wage, paid sick leave ruling from taking effect until February

By: - August 2, 2022 10:11 am

Rally at Cadillac Place state office building on April 22 to fight for minimum wage increase and paid sick leave. | Ken Coleman photo

Minimum wage workers in Michigan will have to wait until next year before they see a court-ordered hike in their pay.

Court of Claims Judge Douglas Shapiro last week issued a stay of his July 19 ruling that rejected 2018 changes made by Republicans in the Michigan Legislature to weaken minimum wage and sick leave laws, declaring them as unconstitutional.

While Shapiro said there was no legal justification for a stay, it was in the public interest to give employers and state agencies until Feb. 19 to implement the pay raise.

At issue were petitions turned in by advocates to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2022, while also eventually eliminating a lower tipped wage for workers in the restaurant industry. 

Michigan’s minimum wage could increase after judge’s ruling

Currently, the state’s minimum wage is $9.87 per hour, while the minimum hourly wage for tipped workers is $3.75. A second petition sought to expand sick leave benefits for employees.

The GOP-controlled Legislature adopted both measures before Election Day instead of allowing Michiganders to vote on them. Lawmakers then returned later that year during a lame duck session and essentially gutted the initiatives.

Shapiro ruled that adopting the measures and then amending them in the same legislative session was unconstitutional.

Under the amended GOP-plan, the state’s minimum wage was only allowed to rise to $12.05 an hour by 2030, while the separate tipped wage would only rise to $4.58 by 2030. Meanwhile, a provision tying the minimum wage to inflation rates was removed.

The original sick leave initiative would have garnered workers an hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, while the amended version upped that to 40 hours and restricted it to businesses that employ at least 50 people.

The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association welcomed Shapiro’s stay, warning that otherwise, “operators will experience 156% inflation overnight and will likely be forced to lay off thousands.”

CEO Justin Winslow told the Detroit Free Press that while the stay “prevented the immediate economic decimation of full-service restaurants … it leaves a teetering industry unsure of its future and incapable of making informed decisions to regain stability.”

Winslow argued that a lower minimum wage for tipped workers was something 42 other states have and also was needed in Michigan.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office agreed with the stay of Shapiro’s order, saying the long-term stability of the law was best ensured by allowing all appeals to be adjudicated prior to its implementation.

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Jon King
Jon King

Jon King has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2021 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell, where he also serves on the Board of Directors for the Livingston Diversity Council.