Paul DeCamp, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, was quoted in Law360 Employment Authority, in “4 Minimum Wage Measures Hitting Ballots in November,” by Max Kutner. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

November, voters in Nebraska, Nevada, the District of Columbia and Maine's most populous city will weigh in on ballot measures addressing minimum wage.

In Nebraska, voters will decide whether to raise the statewide wage floor, while Nevadans will consider eliminating a tiered system that results in some workers having a higher wage floor than others. And in D.C., voters will return to the question of whether to eliminate the tipped minimum wage, after the city council overrode a voter-approved initiative a few years ago.

At the local level, a measure in Portland, Maine, would also address the tipped minimum wage and could make that city the first one to formally approve an $18 minimum wage.

Here's a look at those four ballot measures.

Fight For $15 in Nebraska

Nebraska voters next month will consider Initiative 433, which would incrementally increase the statewide minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026, followed by additional increases tied to inflation. …

But when it comes to minimum wage, voters are misguided about what seems like a good thing but actually has downsides, said Paul DeCamp of management-side firm Epstein Becker Green.

"It's easy to explain to somebody why a free lunch is a good thing. It's harder to explain the costs to the free lunch and why a free lunch is not free," DeCamp said. "I don't think it's fair to say that people voting for minimum wage necessarily reflects the will of the people, so much as a lack of economic understanding." …

D.C. Revisits Tip Credit

In D.C., Initiative 82, known as the District of Columbia Tip Credit Elimination Act of 2021, would eliminate the subminimum wage for tipped workers and increase their rate to match the standard minimum wage.

Employers in D.C. can currently pay tipped workers $5.35 an hour, well below the $16.10 hourly rate for nontipped workers.

Under many state laws and federal law, employers can pay tipped workers below minimum wage, with the expectation that tips make up the difference. …

But voters don't always understand the nuances of the economics around tipping issues, DeCamp said.

"To the extent that it's difficult for the average voter to understand the economics of the minimum wage, it's even more difficult to understand the interplay of tips and a tipped minimum wage and overall employee earnings in the restaurant industry," DeCamp said. …

Portland Eyes Highest City Wage Floor

Voters in Maine's most populous city will also consider ending a tip credit, as well as raising the wage floor for all workers. …

Portland's initiative would also establish a Department of Fair Labor Practices that would create rules for a minimum wage for taxi and app-based drivers and delivery workers based on trip duration and distance, fare rates and driver expenses. Companies often classify those workers as independent contractors, who are not covered by minimum wage and overtime requirements, and such workers frequently sue alleging misclassification.

By making such workers eligible for overtime without reclassifying them, Portland would be joining a conversation about creating a third status in between independent contractor and employee, DeCamp said. "This may be a way to try to square that circle a little bit and say … 'For these particular people doing this particular kind of work, we're going to extend these protections.'"



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