Changes to the state’s minimum wage laws have been paused by a recent court ruling. The Detroit Regional Chamber and its business association colleagues filed an amicus brief in support of the decision. Learn more on the latest action below.
Detroit Free Press
Jan. 27, 2023
Changes to Michigan’s minimum wage laws have been prevented, at least for the moment, thanks to a ruling from a panel of state judges.
Why is Michigan’s minimum wage in the news?
On Thursday, a three-judge Court of Appeals panel in Michigan ruled the state Legislature acted constitutionally in 2018 when it adopted a pair of ballot initiatives and then amended them within the same session. One of those petition initiatives sought to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2022 and raise and eventually eliminate the tipped minimum wage. The tipped minimum wage is the lower hourly rate given to workers who are expected to make the bulk of their wages through tips, like bartenders and restaurant servers.
The Michigan Legislature, controlled by Republicans at the time, adopted the petition language but amended it to delay the increase to $12 an hour until 2030. The adopted language also maintained the tipped minimum wage at 38% of the regular minimum wage.
Wait, so why did the Court of Appeals have to weigh in?
Mothering Justice, a group advocating for adopting the petition initiatives as they were originally written, sued the Legislature for its handling of the initiative language. In July, Court of Claims Judge Douglas Shapiro sided with Mothering Justice, issuing an order that would’ve changed the minimum wage to what it was originally intended to be by the initiative organizers — starting Feb. 19, the hourly minimum wage would’ve been $13.03, while the tipped minimum wage would’ve been $11.73 an hour until being phased out to match the standard minimum wage on Jan. 1, 2024.
Shapiro’s ruling was appealed by state lawyers to the Michigan Court of Appeals, which ruled Thursday the Legislature did have the authority to adopt and amend the petition initiatives in the same session.
What’s the minimum wage in Michigan currently?
Michigan’s current hourly minimum wage is $10.10. The tipped minimum wage is $3.84 an hour.
What else is at stake in this case?
In 2018, the Legislature also adopted and amended a separate petition initiative aimed at boosting the amount of paid sick leave employers have to provide their workers.
The petition originally intended to require Michigan employers to provide one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours of work. Employers with fewer than 10 employees would have to allow employees to accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick time annually, and employers with 10 or more would have to allow employees to accrue up to 72 hours of paid sick time per year.
The Legislature amended the petition to remove requirements for employers with fewer than 50 employees. Thursday’s Court of Appeals ruling maintains the exclusion of employers with fewer than 50 workers.
What’s next in this case?
An appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court is likely to follow the Court of Appeals ruling. Eboni Taylor, executive director of Mothering Justice, said Thursday the group will ask the high court to weigh in on the case.
If the Supreme Court takes up the case, it will have the final say on adopt-and-amend in Michigan and the future of the state’s wage laws.