Consequential argument first advanced by Attorney General Ferguson
SEATTLE —The Supreme Court of Washington today held that the City of SeaTac’s $15-an-hour minimum wage applies to workers at SeaTac airport, relying in part on arguments made by the office of Attorney General Bob Ferguson. The state was not a party to the lawsuit but made the arguments in an amicus — or “friend of the court” — brief filed in the case.
In holding that the City’s ordinance protects airport workers, the Court relied in part on the AG’s argument about how to interpret the state minimum wage law: “This argument regarding the Washington Minimum Wage Act was first advanced by the Washington State Attorney General.” (Filo Foods, LLC v. City of SeaTac, page 19.)
“I’m pleased the Court adopted my office’s proposed approach as a key part of its 5-4 decision,” Ferguson said. “This important ruling helps protect the rights of workers at SeaTac Airport and recognizes the broad authority state and local governments have to support their hard-working residents.”
Alaska Airlines, the Washington Restaurant Association, BF Foods and Filo Foods sued the City of SeaTac over the city’s $15-an-hour minimum wage ordinance, arguing it should not apply at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
A King County Superior Court judge ruled that the city doesn’t have the authority to set a minimum wage at the airport, because it’s owned by the port. The decision was appealed to the state Supreme Court and argued in June 2014.
The Attorney General’s brief, written by Solicitor General Noah Purcell, focused on an error in the district court’s opinion that none of the other parties in the case emphasized: the proper interpretation of Washington’s Minimum Wage Act. The Supreme Court agreed with the AG’s interpretation.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Attorney General Bob Ferguson is working hard to protect consumers and seniors against fraud, keep our communities safe, protect our environment and stand up for our veterans. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Peter Lavallee, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725; PeterL@atg.wa.gov