In a resounding victory for the California labor movement, the state announced March 28 that it would raise the minimum wage for all workers to $15 by 2022. The announcement is the result of the tireless work of California’s labor unions in keeping the issue in front of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown. It also eliminates the need to run a costly ballot initiative in the November elections.

The California minimum wage will go up incrementally, rising to $10.50 on January 1, 2017, another 50 cents in 2018, and then will increase $1 per year through 2022. Small businesses – those with fewer than 25 employees – will not have to raise their minimum wage to $15 until 2023, giving them an extra year to comply. The agreement also links future increases in California’s minimum wage to inflation, though in the event of an economic downturn the incumbent governor will have to power to temporarily block an increase.

This announcement establishes California as a leader among state governments in raising the minimum wage. In 2014, the City of Seattle set a benchmark when it approved a $15 minimum wage for its workers. New York has also expressed support for an increase to $15, but has yet to enact legislation.

Hopefully, California will be the beginning of a trend that rolls across the country.

The attorneys in Sommers Schwartz’s Wage & Hour Litigation Group are knowledgeable in all aspects of minimum wage laws and protections. If you suspect that you have been unjustly denied compensation, please contact us to learn how we can help.