Home health care company BrightStar Care has joined the fight against Seattle’s newly enacted minimum wage law, which it says is discriminatory.
Franchise owners have taken a stand against the city’s law, which they say places an unfair timeline on franchise companies—which unaffiliated small businesses do not have to comply with—to raise the minimum wage they are paying employees. The current law, which became effective April 1, 2015, increases the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, through incremental increases over several years.
The International Franchise Association (IFA) filed a lawsuit against Seattle last year to block the franchise portion of the city’s law, arguing the provision is unconstitutional and incorrectly categorizes franchises as big businesses.
Shelly Sun, co-founder of BrightStar Care, a home care and medical staffing business that has nearly 300 franchises in 38 states, has united with a Seattle BrightStar franchise owner who is named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
“It’s not an argument against minimum wage and what the right level of minimum wage is,” Sun told Breitbart News. “It’s about discriminatory minimum wage.”
Seattle’s new minimum wage law allows small businesses several years to reach $15 per hour by 2021 with gradual wage increases. Businesses with more than 500 employees must pay workers $15 per hour beginning January 2017 or 2018.
However, franchised businesses are only given three years to ramp up pay to $15 per hour—the same allotted time for big businesses to comply.
A proposed injunction that would allow franchise businesses to pay the same minimum wage as any other small business was denied by a U.S. District Court. IFA appealed the decision, challenging the constitutionality of the law. Oral arguments for the appeal on that decision were held on Tuesday, Sept. 1 in front of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. A hearing will be held on Thursday, Sept. 3.
Sun told Breitbart News she flew to Seattle to attend the oral arguments and support BrightStar Care franchise owners Kathy and Mark Lyons, plaintiffs in IFA’s lawsuit. The Lyons are one of four franchise businesses that are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Kathy Lyons argues the lawsuit is simply about being treated fairly under the law as a small business, not about the money, KiroTV.com reported.
“It’s increasing minimum wage at a faster pace for those that are franchise businesses or large businesses, causing Kathy to be in the same category as Microsoft, or Seattle’s Best Coffee or any of the other large employers…and that’s just wrong,” Sun told Breitbart News. “It forces a small business like Kathy to be unable to compete with the true competitor she has in the market place.”
Several national groups fighting for higher minimum wages have gained traction over the last two years. Seattle is one of a handful of U.S. cities that passed recent laws with pathways to bring the minimum wage up to $15 per hour. Other cities with similar measures include New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
Written by Amy Baxter