Employment Attorney: Judge Bars Miami Beach Minimum Wage Increase

Section 218.077 (2), Florida Statutes, prohibits political subdivisions, such as Miami-Beach, from passing local minimum wages that exceed the state or federal minimum wage. It provides as follows:

Except as otherwise provided in subsection (3), a political subdivision may not establish, mandate, or otherwise require an employer to pay a minimum wage, other than a state or federal minimum wage, to apply a state or federal minimum wage to wages exempt from a state or federal minimum wage, or to provide employment benefits not otherwise required by state or federal law.

Section 218.077 (2), Fla. Stat. Subsection (3) permits political subdivisions to regulate wages paid to three classes: a political subdivisions own employees, employees of the political subdivisions contractors or subcontractors; and employees of employers receiving a direct tax abatement or subsidy from the political subdivision. Id. Section 218.077 (3). It also provides an exemption for local domestic violence and sexual abuse ordinances, orders, rules and policies. Id., Section 218.077 (3)(b).

However, the Legislature passed first passed Section 218.077 in 2003, when Florida had no state law concerning minimum wages. Nevertheless, Judge Peter R. Lopez blocked Miami Beach’s proposed minimum wage increase, determining that it violated a state law prohibiting municipalities from creating wage floors, which contradict the statewide rate. Specifically, Judge Lopez invalidated an ordinance passed by the City of Miami Beach last year that would require a $13.31 minimum rate citywide by 2021, granting summary judgment to business groups that challenged the local measure. In short, the Circuit Court decision held that the City’s minimum wage ordinance is not valid under [the Florida Statute], which pre-empts local minimum wages.

However, in support of its appeal to the Third District, the City of Miami Beach referenced Article X, Section 24 (f) of the Florida Constitution, which provides that “it shall be not be construed to pre-empt or otherwise limit the authority of the state legislature or any other public body to adopt or enforce any other law . . . that provides for the payment of higher or supplemental wages.” It is anticipated that the decision of the Third District will have a broad impact on the municipal attempts to implement minimum wage ordinances.

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