Kentucky Supreme Court to hear Louisville minimum wage case

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The Kentucky Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether local governments like Louisville Metro can establish minimum wages within their borders.

The court on Thursday granted a request from business groups challenging Louisville Metro’s new minimum wage ordinance to take the case early.

A Jefferson Circuit Court Judge upheld the ordinance in June, and it went into effect July 1.

The minimum wage in Jefferson County is $7.75 an hour – up from the federal standard of $7.25 – and will rise to $9 an hour in July 2017, according to the ordinance passed late last year by the Louisville Metro Council and signed by Mayor Greg Fischer.

The Supreme Court will now hear the case, bypassing a decision by the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

Brent Baughman, the Louisville attorney representing the challengers, said it will probably take until late spring of 2016 for the high court to decide the case.

With Lexington-Fayette County also considering a local minimum wage, the court’s decision will affect nearly 25 percent of the state’s population, according to the business groups’ July 9 motion asking the high court to intervene.

The Jefferson County Attorney’s Office, which is defending Metro government, did not object to the case going straight to the Supreme Court.

The business groups — Kentucky Retail Federation, Kentucky Restaurant Association and Louisville minimum-wage employer Packaging Unlimited — say cities and counties don’t have the authority to set a minimum wage within their borders. That power rests with the state General Assembly, they argue.

Another key issue is whether Metro government’s attempt to give employees the right to sue employers for back wages and attorney’s fees under the state Wage and Hour law will hold up in court.

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Jefferson County judge upholds minimum wage

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