Baltimore’s Mayor Vetoes $15/Hour Minimum Wage

July 7, 2017
The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford

Bartenders at a busy bar

Earlier this year, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh vetoed the proposed minimum wage law that was overwhelmingly passed by a vote of 12-15 in the City Council. The change would have nearly doubled Baltimore’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. Advocates of the changes were pushing for a “living wage” for restaurant workers and other low-wage earners. Two weeks after the City Council approved the measure with its veto-proof vote ─ the Council can override the Mayor’s veto with 12 out of 15 votes ─ the bill’s lead sponsor was unable to garner enough support from the City Council to attempt to override the Mayor’s veto. In a stunning reversal, only 6 of the 15 Council Members joined the effort to hold a special meeting to override Mayor Pugh’s veto.

The Fight for $15/Hour

The vetoed legislation would have increased Baltimore’s minimum wage from $8.75 an hour and linked Baltimore to efforts across the United States to boost the standard of living for low-wage service workers, according to news reports. Democratic Mayor Pugh promised last year during her mayoral campaign to sign a $15 minimum wage bill if the City Council passed one. The reasoning behind the veto, the mayor noted earlier this year, was that the higher minimum wage would put Baltimore at a competitive disadvantage with neighboring suburban counties and cities.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as many as one-fourth of the residents in Baltimore live below the federal poverty level. Presently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. The state of Maryland mandated an increase in the minimum wage to $9.25 an hour in July of this year and up to $10.10 in 2018. The legislation was expected to boost the pay of approximately 27% of the City’s workforce or 100,000 workers, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Baltimore Minimum Wage Violations

Under Maryland’s wage and hour laws, as well as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Baltimore employers are required to pay a minimum wage to all non-exempt employees. In limited scenarios, Maryland’s minimum wage laws permit employers to pay less than the required minimum wage.

Under federal law the state requires workers who are primarily compensated by tips to receive at least $3.63 per hour. The combined amount between tips and wages must meet the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour or the employer must make up the difference. Maryland adopts the same rule, except the amount an employee receives in tips combined with this lower wage must equate to, at least, the state’s minimum wage for all hours worked. If the combined amount does not meet the minimum wage, the employer must pay additional wages to make up the difference.

Baltimore Wage and Hour Attorneys

If you are a Baltimore worker who believes your wages have been unfairly withheld by your employer, you may have a claim against your employer for violation of Maryland’s Wage Payment and Collection Law. The knowledgeable Baltimore wage and hour attorneys at The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford have the experience to both analyze the facts of your case and determine what amount, if any, you may be owed in back pay and monetary damages. Call (410)514-6099 or click here today to schedule your initial case evaluation.

(image courtesy of Taylor Davidson)