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eLABORate: Florida Court Strikes Down Miami Beach Minimum Wage Increase

December 20, 2017

Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal has affirmed a trial court’s decision blocking a minimum wage increase proposed by the city of Miami Beach. In its ruling, the appellate court agreed with the trial court’s determination that a 2003 Florida state statute prohibited municipalities, such as Miami Beach, from adopting their own wage floors. 

The city of Miami Beach passed an ordinance in 2016 that required a citywide minimum wage increase, from $8.10 an hour to $10.31 an hour, to take effect in 2018. The ordinance included an annual increase of $1.00 each year, with a cap set at $13.31, until January 2, 2021.

In response to the ordinance, three of Florida’s prominent business organizations—the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Retail Federation, and the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association—challenged the legality of the ordinance, claiming that it directly violated a 2003 state statute prohibiting political subdivisions of the state from establishing a minimum wage. The city of Miami Beach argued that a 2004 amendment to the Florida Constitution invalidated the 2003 statute. Ultimately, the trial court disagreed and the appellate court affirmed the decision based on the limiting language of the 2003 statute, preventing the minimum wage increase. 

The business organizations that challenged the ordinance are declaring the appellate ruling a victory for businesses, but realize that the fight is far from over. Miami Beach has expressed its intent to petition the Florida Supreme Court for review of the decision. Given the constitutional and statutory concerns, there is a high likelihood that the Florida Supreme Court will accept the case and issue a definitive ruling.

For now, it is clear that Florida cities and counties cannot set minimum wages above the recently increased statewide minimum wage level.

The Phelps Dunbar Labor and Employment team will update readers on further developments related to this legal dispute, and all other wage and hour issues.