Emeryville, near Oakland, California, recently joined a growing number of U.S. cities in raising its local minimum wage. Effective July 1, 2015, Emeryville raised its minimum wage and implemented paid sick leave for all employees who work at least two hours within the city’s geographic boundaries.
The new ordinance sets different minimum wages for large and small employers. Large employers with more than 55 employees in Emeryville must pay employees at least $14.44 per hour; small businesses of 55 or fewer employees must pay $12.25 per hour. The minimum wage for large employers, which in Emeryville notably include several big box retailers, will automatically adjust for inflation each year. The minimum wage for small employers will rise a dollar per year until it reaches $15 per hour in 2018. In 2019, the minimum wage will be the same for all employers in Emeryville and will rise with Bay Area inflation.
The new paid sick leave allows employees to accrue up to 72 hours of paid sick leave at large businesses, and 48 hours at small businesses. Employees may take paid time off for their own illness or medical treatment, or to care for an ill family member. An employee may also care for a designated individual who is not a spouse or family member.
The ordinance prohibits retaliation for complaining of violations of the minimum wage or paid sick leave. Additionally, an employer may not terminate an employee within 120 days of being notified that an employee has asserted her rights under the ordinance, unless the employer has clear and convincing evidence of just cause for the termination.
The ordinance provides a private right of action for violations as well as government enforcement. Employees may file a complaint on the city’s website or seek the assistance of a private attorney. Remedies include back pay, civil penalties, reinstatement, injunctive relief, attorneys’ fees, and costs.