New St. Louis City Minimum Wage Effective May 5, 2017

May 4, 2017 Advisory

The new minimum wage in the City of St. Louis, effective May 5, 2017, is $10.00 per hour

As background, on May 29, 2015, the City of St. Louis passed an ordinance setting a minimum wage that is higher than the current Missouri state minimum wage, $7.70 per hour. The ordinance was initially blocked in October 2015 by a St. Louis Circuit Court judge who enjoined the ordinance’s enforcement on the grounds that it conflicts with Missouri’s minimum wage law, and is therefore void and unenforceable. However, on Feb. 28, 2017, the Missouri Supreme Court held that the ordinance is valid and ordered the Circuit Court to lift its injunction, opening the door to enforcement of the ordinance. As anticipated, the court has now lifted the injunction.

By law, compliance with the St. Louis minimum wage ordinance is required immediately. Under former Mayor Francis Slay, the city previously indicated that it only intended to prosecute intentional violations of the ordinance and that investigations would be complaint-based. It remains to be seen whether this will remain the city’s approach under Mayor Lyda Krewson. Regardless, the ordinance permits employees to assert claims against employers for violation of the ordinance, so employers must comply.

The key provisions of the St. Louis minimum wage ordinance are as follows:

  • Applies to all businesses with annual gross revenues in excess of $500,000, and/or that employ more than 15 employees, regardless of location of the business itself;
  • Applies to any employee who performs at least 20 hours of work in a calendar year while physically present within the geographic boundaries of the City of St. Louis, regardless of the location of the employer and whether the employee works in the city only temporarily;
  • The minimum wage will be $10.00 per hour for the remainder of 2017 ($5.00 for tipped employees who regularly receive in excess of $30 per month in tips), and will increase to $11.00 per hour ($5.50) on Jan. 1, 2018;
  • Beginning on Jan. 1, 2019, and each successive year thereafter, the minimum wage will be increased annually to reflect inflation;
  • Employers must post a notice provided by the city with other employment law posters in every facility where employees work within the City of St. Louis;
  • Employers must distribute a notice provided by the city to every employee who performs the requisite amount of work in the city with the first paycheck that is subject to the ordinance; and
  • In addition to a private cause of action by employees, the ordinance permits the city to assess a fine of up to $500 per violation (each day a violation continues is considered a separate violation), revoke business licenses, and violators may also face up to 90 days in jail.

The notice forms published by the city for posting and distribution are available on the City of St. Louis’ website. Employers should take all steps necessary to comply with the ordinance immediately and ensure that all eligible employees receive the new minimum wage for all hours worked on or after May 5, 2017.

Note that the Missouri legislature is actively trying to pass legislation that would make this ordinance and others similar to it unlawful. The current legislation would preempt all local ordinances that establish a minimum wage higher than the rate required by the Missouri statute, which would then permit employers to revert back to the Missouri state minimum wage. The legislation is moving quickly, but it remains to be seen if and when the law will be passed. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide an update when pertinent. In the meantime, to reiterate, employers must comply with the new city minimum wage.