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Restaurant Chains Drop Lawsuit Against Seattle

The $15 minimum wage law will remain on schedule

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In a win for workers this week, McDonald's and other large chains formally withdrew their lawsuit against Seattle's $15 minimum wage law.

Represented by the International Franchise Association and supported by the National Restaurant Association, major fast food chains sued the City of Seattle last year. They sought to halt the section of Seattle's minimum wage law that put them on an accelerated pace to implement the new wage, well in advance of other businesses.

The disputed law took effect April 1, 2015, and requires companies with over 500 employees to pay at least $15 per hour by January 1, 2017; large businesses that offer healthcare coverage have an extra year, while small businesses get an even longer grace period.

The plaintiffs claimed that this staggered timeline violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which says that no state is allowed to "deny any person... the equal protection of the laws." And since businesses are generally considered people these days, well, there was no telling what would happen.

A spokesperson for workers organization Washington Workers, though, noted in a release that the plaintiffs' "motion for an injunction had been rejected by a district court judge, an appeals court, and declined for hearing" by the U.S. Supreme Court. Finally, with the Stipulation of Dismissal (see below), the chains seem to have given up on this angle.

Meanwhile, there are still plenty of labor battles left to fight throughout the country, but many Seattle restaurateurs, including James Beard Award-winning chef Renee Erickson, have gotten a head start on the competition, eliminating tipping (or at least replacing voluntary tipping with mandatory service charges) and upping employee salaries ahead of schedule.

Stipulation of Dismissal