Happy New Year and happy annual minimum wage increases!

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By Chris Adams (cda@wimlaw.com)

Twenty-one states and some thirty-nine municipalities are increasing their minimum wage effective January 1, 2019, or later in 2019. At present, twenty-nine states and approximately fifty municipalities have minimum wage requirements that differ from (and exceed) the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This continues the Balkanization of employment law in the United States, a trend that is almost guaranteed to exacerbate gridlock in Washington and State capitols and fuel wage and hour lawsuits everywhere, in this author’s opinion.
In the southeastern U.S., only Florida has minimum wage requirements that exceed the Federal requirements. This year the state minimum wage in Florida will be $8.46 per hour. Note that some states and municipalities have annual increases that occur on days other than the first of the year (with July 1 or July 31 being common). Others have increases mathematically linked to inflation.
The real take-away isn’t so much a focus on differing minimum wages as the broader involvement by states and municipalities in a broad array of employment-related issues: wage rates and calculation methods, such as different rules for tip credits or allowable deductions, wage notice rules, final payment requirements, leave laws, prohibitions of asking past salary information, “ban the box” laws (prohibiting asking about criminal convictions), and so on. Some states, like California, do not recognize the FLSA’s exemption from overtime for agriculture: others, like Vermont, use the FLSA minimum wage for agriculture and apply the higher State minimum wage to non-agricultural workers.
Bottom line: All employers, and especially those with multi-state operations, should pay attention to State and local laws that affect your employment relationships and liability.

Chris Adams is a paralegal in the Atlanta office of Wimberly, Lawson, Steckel, Schneider, & Stine, P.C. He can be contacted at cda@wimlaw.com.

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