On Tuesday, July 19, Court of Claims Judge Douglas Shapiro ruled that the Michigan legislature took an unconstitutional action of weakening two voter-proposed initiatives that would have raised the minimum wage and require paid sick leave for virtually every employee in Michigan.
These ballot measures from 2018 would have raised the minimum wage in Michigan to $12 per hour by 2022, brought the tipped minimum wage to match the non-tipped minimum wage by 2024, as well as expanded the criteria for employees that would be required to receive paid sick days to include businesses that have 50 or fewer employees.
Instead of allowing these proposals to be put on the ballot, the legislature used a tactic called “adopt and amend,” meaning the legislature adopted the proposal – which in turn removed it from the ballot – and then amended the legislation. When the legislature used “adopt and amend,” they changed the minimum wage to $12.05 an hour by 2030 and gutted the minimum sick days to 40 hours instead of the 72 hours that the proposal listed. This action was ruled unconstitutional.
If nothing were to change based on Tuesday’s ruling, the original ballot proposals will become effective on Aug. 2. Approximately 685,000 Michiganders are making $12 an hour or less, and upwards of 1.8 million Michiganders would fall under the new requirements for paid sick leave.
Before that happens, there has been a stay filed that would pause the ruling until another court is able to review the case. It is unclear at this time if that stay or any other appeal will be granted.
In the meantime, the Michigan Wage and Hour Division is preparing educational information for employers that will be shared with the Detroit Regional Chamber and its membership.
“The Detroit Regional Chamber supported the Legislature’s action in 2018 and is disappointed by the surprise decision of the Court of Claims,” said Sandy K. Baruah, the Chamber’s president and chief executive officer. “Given the strong wage growth in the last two years, the implications of the Court’s decision are unclear. We advise our members to wait for guidance from the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity before implementing any changes.”
The Chamber will continue monitoring the lawsuits and is prepared for informational sessions should this ruling be upheld.