Today, May 5, 2017, the minimum wage in the City of St. Louis will increase to $10 per hour. City of St. Louis Ordinance No. 70078 was adopted in 2015 but was enjoined because of a lawsuit challenging the validity of the Ordinance; this injunction was lifted yesterday.
How Are Employers Affected by the Increase?
Employers must comply with this increase or be subject to penalties imposed by the City of St. Louis. Violation of the Ordinance may be punishable by a jail sentence of up to 90 days or by a fine of up to $500 per violation, or any combination of the two, including both the maximum jail time and maximum fine. Each day an employer is not in compliance is considered a separate violation, subject to the aforementioned penalties. Further, if it is found after an investigation that an employer has repeatedly or intentionally violated the Ordinance, an employer’s business license, occupancy permit or any other license, permit or variance issued by the City of St. Louis may be revoked. Further, the Ordinance expressly provides that any penalties included in the Ordinance do not limit or abridge an individual’s rights to civil enforcement in a court of law.
Under the Ordinance, it is also a violation for an employer to interfere with, restrain or deny the exercise of, or the attempt to exercise, any right protected under the Ordinance. It is also illegal for an employer to retaliate against any employee for making a complaint to the Department of Human Services regarding compliance with the Ordinance; participating in any investigation concerning compliance with the Ordinance; informing his or her employer, fellow employees, union or similar organization, or legal counsel about an employer’s alleged violation of the Ordinance; exercising rights protected by the Ordinance; opposing or otherwise speaking or advocating against any policy, practice or act that is unlawful under the Ordinance; or availing himself or herself of any of the civil remedies provided in the Ordinance.
Two types of employers are exempt from the increase:
1. Employers whose annual gross revenue made or business done is less than $500,000 annually (or projected to be less than $500,000, if the business has been operating for less than one year); or
2. Employers who employ 15 or fewer employees during each calendar week within the current calendar year and the previous calendar year, regardless of the employees’ status as part-time, full-time or temporary, UNLESS such an employer is a franchisee.
It is important to note that the employer does not have to have its offices physically located in the City of St. Louis to be subject to this Ordinance.
Which Employees Are Subject to the Increase?
Any individual employee who performs at least 20 hours of work within a calendar year while physically present within the geographic boundaries of the City of St. Louis, regardless of whether the employee is part-time, full-time, temporary, hourly or salaried, must receive a minimum wage of $10 per hour. This amount will increase to $11 per hour starting Jan. 1, 2018, and will be increased based on inflation in the continuing years.
The only exception to the $10 amount is for “tipped workers.” Employees who customarily and regularly receive more than $30 per month in tips must receive 50 percent of the minimum wage rate. However, if the tipped employee’s total compensation in tips and wages is less than the minimum wage, the employer must make up the difference. For example: If a tipped employee makes $3 per hour in tips, the employer would have to pay a wage of $7 per hour instead of $5 in order to comply with the Ordinance.
There are very few exceptions concerning which employees are subject to this Ordinance, and there is no exception for independent contractors. Regardless of whether an employee is part-time, full-time or temporary, including contingent and contracted workers and individuals working through a temporary service, staffing or employment agency, the employee must receive the minimum wage set by the Ordinance.
Starting May 5, 2017, every employer must post in a conspicuous place at each facility where any employee works that is located within the geographic boundaries of the City of St. Louis a notice advising the employee of the new minimum wage and of the employee’s rights under the Ordinance. Employers that do not maintain a business facility within the geographic boundaries of the City of St. Louis are exempt from this requirement.
Further, every employer shall provide with the first paycheck subject to the Ordinance that is issued to the employee a notice advising the employee of the current minimum wage and the employee’s rights under the Ordinance.
These notices can be found here: https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/human-services/minimum-wage/minimum-wage-law-notice.cfm
Future Increases in City of St. Louis Minimum Wage
The City of St. Louis minimum wage is scheduled to increase as follows:
Jan. 1, 2018 $11 per hour
Jan. 1, 2019 $11 + percentage to reflect the rate of inflation
Each subsequent year, the minimum wage from the previous year will increase by the rate of inflation. If at any time the state or federal minimum wage rate is greater than the minimum wage rate established by the Ordinance, then that greater rate shall become the minimum wage in the City of St. Louis for the purposes of the Ordinance.