Businesses seek to block portion of new Seattle minimum wage law

Economic IndicatorsAssociated Press

A federal judge is considering whether he should block part of Seattle's new minimum wage law before it takes effect next month, on the grounds that it discriminates against franchises that are part of large national chains.

The law, which raises the city's minimum to $15 an hour, is phased in more quickly for big companies than small ones. Among those determined to be big companies as part of the law are franchises — from fast-food joints to hotel chains — that are connected to networks that in all have more than 500 workers.

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Paul Clement, a former U.S. solicitor general who is representing the International Franchise Association, said during arguments Tuesday that's unfair to the franchises. He says they're essentially small businesses.

Assistant city attorney Greg Narver responded the law's intent was simply to raise the pay of Seattle's low-wage workers.