Franchise Group to Appeal Judge’s Seattle Minimum-Wage Ruling

SEATTLE (The Seattle Times/TNS) —

The International Franchise Association and several local franchisees on Friday said they would appeal a recent decision by a federal judge not to stop a part of Seattle’s minimum-wage law from taking effect.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones, filed late Tuesday, means locally owned franchisees in Seattle are still on the same fast track as large employers toward reaching $15-an-hour pay for their workers within two to three years.

Jones wrote that the franchise owners and their industry association hadn’t shown the city intended to discriminate against them.

Likewise, he wrote, “there is simply no credible evidence in the record that indicates franchisees will close up shop or reduce operations, or that new franchisees will not open up in Seattle.”

The association and franchisees gave notice Friday that they would appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

“Franchisees deserve fairness under the law and we will continue to aggressively advocate on their behalf in federal circuit court,” Steve Caldeira, the association’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “We are not seeking to prevent Seattle’s minimum wage increase from going into effect. Our appeal will be focused on the blatant discriminatory mistreatment of franchisees under Seattle’s new law and the City’s improper motivation to discriminate against interstate commerce.”

Several local franchisees and the International Franchise Association sought a preliminary injunction to suspend the portion of the law that grouped franchisees with big businesses of more than 500 workers, which must pay employees $15 an hour by 2017. Large employers that offer health-care benefits have an additional year.

Smaller employers — those with 500 or fewer employees — have until 2021, depending on whether their employees get tips and medical benefits.

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