Albuquerque Living Wage Proposition Vote Pending
The Public Policy Committee wants you to know about the Living Wage Proposition
that is slated for the October 4th City ballot.
This may affect your business!
The October 4th City election ballot will contain a proposition to enact a living wage ordinance in the City of Albuquerque. There are several aspects of this proposition which, if approved by the voters, will have a major impact on companies located in Albuquerque. A summary of the proposal follows. Please use the Agora forum to discuss your thoughts on the proposition.
Thank you, The Public Policy Committee
Summary of Living Wage Proposition
Most of you have probably heard about the Living Wage Proposition (LWP) that will be on the October 4th City Ballot raising the minimum wage rate to $7.50 within the City of Albuquerque. There are several items that business owners need to be aware of when deciding whether they will vote for or against the proposition.
The LWP establishes a minimum wage in the City of Albuquerque of $7.50 per hour for regular employees and $4.50 per hour for tipped employees effective January 1, 2006. Each year in the future, the minimum wage rates will be increased to keep pace with inflation.
Employers Who Are Covered under the Proposition
While the LWP does not apply to small businesses with 10 or fewer employees, it is very important that business owners know the very broad definition of employer and employee under the LWP:
- Employee covers any person whose wages or hours or working conditions are controlled by the employer. It includes any person who works at least 2 hours in a given week within the geographic boundaries of the City. It covers full-time, part-time, seasonal, temporary and leased employees as well as independent contractors and any person performing work indirectly through a temporary service, staffing agency, building services contractor or similar entity. Excluded are some interns and handicapped persons under specific circumstances.
- The term employer includes persons and all types of legal entities and their officers and executives, whether or not for profit. It covers all employers with more than ten employees, as defined above, in any given month and in any location whether inside or outside the City limits.
Access to Employers’ Businesses under the LWP
All employers must allow any member of the public access to non-work areas of the employer’s business that are otherwise open to the public or customers to inform employees regarding their rights under the ordinance as well as any other law. In essence, employers must allow anyone to speak to employees about almost anything. It also allows virtually anyone to be on the employer’s property under the guise of discussing laws.
Prohibited ActionsIt will be unlawful for an employer or any other person to discriminate in any manner or take adverse action against any person in retaliation for exercising rights protected under this ordinance. Some of the rights included in the LWP are:
- The right to inquire about one’s rights under the ordinance, to request to be paid in accordance with the ordinance, to inquire about any party’s compliance with the ordinance, to file a formal or informal complaint under the ordinance, or to inform any person about any party’s alleged noncompliance with the ordinance.
- The right to inform any person of his or her potential rights under the ordinance and to assist him or her in asserting such rights. This right also protects any person who mistakenly, but in good faith, alleges non-compliance.
- Taking adverse action against an employee within ninety (90) days of the person’s exercise of rights protected under the ordinance shall raise a rebuttable presumption of having done so in retaliation for the exercise of such rights.
- Also included as a prohibited action is that an employer may not fund wage increases required by this LWP or otherwise respond to the requirements of the ordinance by reducing the wages of any of its employees.
- Protected rights are not limited to those listed in the ordinance.
Employers must retain payroll records showing names, addresses, ages of minors, hours worked daily by the wages paid to, and the number of piece-rate units earned by, all employees. Employers must make these records available to the City Attorney at any time upon request.
- The City Attorney is charged with the authority to coordinate implementation and enforcement of the ordinance and may promulgate guidelines and rules which will have the force and effect of law. There is no Mayoral, City Council or public oversight or approval process.
- The proposition allows any person or organization to file a complaint with the City Attorney charging any employer with violating the ordinance with respect to an employee. The City Attorney is obligated to keep the name of the employee anonymous and can investigate the records of all employees to protect the anonymity of the identified employee.
Damages and Penalties
- An employer found guilty of violating the ordinance in an administrative hearing conducted by the City Attorney will have to pay the employee the difference in wages times two plus interest. If the City Attorney finds a pattern of violations, the ordinance allows revocation of the business license.
- Any person that violates the ordinance will be guilty of a petty misdemeanor and, upon conviction, for each offense may be subject to a fine up to $500. The LWP does not say that a person will be charged with violating the ordinance; it says that any person who violates the ordinance will be guilty of a petty misdemeanor. A separate crime and separate penalty will be assessed for each day or portion thereof and each employee where the violation has occurred. No appeal process is included in the ordinance.
- In addition, the LWP provides that any employee receiving less that the required wage or whose rights under this ordinance may have been violated may bring civil actions against an employer seeking a wide variety of judgments including actual damages and liquidated damages of $150 per day of violation, reinstatement in the case of discharge and may be entitled to recover costs and expenses of the suit and reasonable attorney’s fees. The amounts of all sums and payments authorized will be updated annually for inflation.
To review the complete text of the Living Wage Proposition, please click the pdf link below.