Cities Must Comply With California's Minimum Wage Laws

Employment and Labor Law Update: This week, the Court of Appeal held that the California state legislature may constitutionally exercise authority over minimum wages applicable to both private and public employees, despite the constitutional reservation of authority in charter cities to legislate as to their municipal affairs. (See, Marquez v. City of Long Beach - filed Feb. 25, 2019, Second District, Div. Seven -- 2019 S.O.S. 880.)

In Marquez v. City of Long Beach, the plaintiff employees appealed a judgment of dismissal entered after the trial court sustained without leave to amend the demurrer filed by the City of Long Beach (City) to plaintiffs’ class action complaint. Plaintiffs had alleged causes of action for violations of the Labor Code and the Industrial Welfare Commission’s (IWC) wage orders based on the City’s alleged failure to pay workers employed as pages and recreation leader specialists wages at or above the statewide minimum wage. The trial court found the authority to determine employee compensation was reserved to the City and the state could not impose a minimum wage for the City’s employees because the City’s compensation of its employees was not a matter of statewide concern.

However, the Court of Appeal reversed the trial court. In its ruling the Court of Appeal determined that legislation setting a statewide minimum wage, generally applicable to both private and public employees, addresses the state’s interest in protecting the health and welfare of workers by ensuring they can afford the necessities of life for themselves and their families. Thus, the Legislature may constitutionally exercise authority over minimum wages, despite the constitutional reservation of authority in charter cities to legislate as to their municipal affairs.


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