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Conversations about whether to raise the minimum wage have been trending for the past several months, and Vermont raised the state’s minimum wage to the highest in the United States at $10.50 per hour. Hawaii became the third state to raise the minimum wage to over $10 per hour.
Recently, Seattle’s city council unanimously approved an increase in the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour making it the nation’s highest by far. While the increase to $15 will take place over several years, it will apply first to many large businesses in 2017 and then to all businesses by 2021.
Washington already has the nation's highest state-level minimum wage in effect, at $9.32. That rate also applies to the city, and it appears other states are following suit. In California, the senate approved a wage hike to $13 per hour and it now goes before the California Assembly.
In fact, in California effective July 1, 2014, the minimum wage will become $9 per hour, and effective January 1, 2016, the minimum wage in California will increase to $10 per hour, according to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE).
However, these continued increases aren’t surprising. According to Chapter 2 of LexisNexis Matthew Bender’s California Employment Law publication, California has a strong public policy in favor of employee mobility, and provides employees with significant protections and defenses against restrictions on the right to pursue a profession or occupation.
Employers who overreach in trying to limit a person’s post-employment activity could face liability under claims such as unfair competition, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, tortious interference with contract, or wrongful discharge in violation of public policy for making continued employment contingent on signing an unlawful noncompetition agreement.
With the amount of minimum wage legislation pending, how do you see the increases in the minimum wage impacting wage and hour claims?