Louisville minimum wage case may go straight to Kentucky Supreme - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville minimum wage case may go straight to Kentucky Supreme Court

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Minimum wage supporters at the Louisville Metro Council in December 2014 Minimum wage supporters at the Louisville Metro Council in December 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --  The legal battle over Louisville Metro’s new $7.75-per-hour minimum wage may be headed straight to the state Supreme Court.

The business groups challenging Metro government’s authority to set the wage have asked the state’s high court to take the case immediately, bypassing the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

The Jefferson County Attorney’s office, which is defending Metro government, does not oppose the fast-tracking of the case, according to a July 17 court filing.

It’ll be up to the Supreme Court justices whether to take the case before the appellate court, said Brent Baughman, an attorney who represents challengers Kentucky Retail Federation, Kentucky Restaurant Association and Louisville business Packaging Unlimited.

With Lexington-Fayette County also considering a local minimum wage, the court’s decision will affect nearly 25 percent of the state’s population, according to the business groups’ July 9 motion asking the high court to intervene.

As of July 1, the minimum wage in Jefferson County is $7.75 an hour – up from the federal standard of $7.25 – and will rise to $9 an hour in July 2017, according to the ordinance passed late last year by the Louisville Metro Council and signed by Mayor Greg Fischer.

The business groups say cities and counties don’t have the authority to set a minimum wage within their borders. That power rests with the state General Assembly, they argue.

But a Jefferson County judge upheld the Louisville ordinance on June 29, allowing it to take effect.

Another key issue is whether Metro government’s attempt to give employees the right to sue employers for back wages and attorney’s fees under the state Wage and Hour law will hold up in court.

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