Cooperative Home Care, Inc., et al.
City of St. Louis, Missouri, et al.
and submitted October 6, 2016
from the St. Louis circuit court, Judge Steven R. Ohmer
Attorneys: The city, its board of public services and its
officers were represented by John J. Rehmann II, James G.
Martin and Robert F. Epperson Jr. of Dowd Bennett LLP in St.
Louis, (314) 889-7300; and Michael A. Garvin, Mark Lawson and
Erin McGowan of the city counselor's office in St. Louis,
(314) 622-3361. The group of employers and organizations was
represented during arguments by Jane E. Dueker, Thomas W.
Hayde and Arthur D. Gregg of Spencer Fane LLP in St. Louis,
(314) 863-7733; and James N. Foster Jr. and Brian C. Hey of
McMahon Berger in St. Louis, (314) 567-7350.
Several groups or individuals filed briefs as friends of the
Court. Arthur J. Clemens Jr. of St. Louis represented
himself. The Municipal and Labor Law Scholars, the National
Employment Law Project and Missouri Jobs With Justice were
represented by Christopher N. Grant of Schuchat, Cook &
Werner in St. Louis, (314) 621-2626.
summary is not part of the opinion of the Court. It has been
prepared by communications counsel for the convenience of the
reader. It neither has been reviewed nor approved by the
Supreme Court and should not be quoted or cited.
The parties cross-appeal the circuit court's judgment
invalidating a city ordinance establishing a citywide local
minimum wage. In an opinion written by Judge Laura Denvir
Stith and joined by four other judges, the Supreme Court of
Missouri affirms the circuit court's judgment that the
city's minimum wage ordinance is not preempted by one
state statute but reverses the circuit court's judgment
holding the ordinance invalid under another. While the first
statute purports to prohibit such local ordinances, that
section is invalid because the bill enacting it contained
more than one subject in violation of the state constitution.
The other statute, however, considered alone or with a third
statute, does not preempt the ordinance because it does not
"occupy the field" of minimum wage laws, nor does
it prohibit the adoption of local minimum wage ordinances.
The city was within its charter authority in enacting a
minimum wage ordinance.
Zel M. Fischer concurs in result. The ordinance was enacted
within the city's home-rule authority and is not
preempted by HB 722 because it was in effect on August 28,
2015. This should end the inquiry - no further preemption
analysis is necessary to resolve the case.
On August 28, 2015, St. Louis city enacted a local ordinance
providing a series of four graduated increases to the minimum
wage for employees working within the physical boundaries of
St. Louis, each to take place at specified times. A group of
employers and organizations (collectively, the employers)
subsequently filed a seven-count petition seeking a
declaratory judgment that the ordinance is invalid and asking
for injunctive relief to prevent the city from enforcing the
ordinance. The employers alleged the ordinance conflicts with
section 67.1671, RSMo, as well as sections 71.010 and
290.502, RSMo, and constitutes a violation of the city's
charter authority. In its judgment, the circuit court found
that section 67.1671 was invalidly enacted but that sections
71.010 and 290.502 preempted the ordinance. Both the city and
the employers appeal.
IN PART AND REVERSED IN PART.
en banc holds: (1) Section 67.1571 cannot expressly
preempt the ordinance because it was unconstitutionally
enacted. The provision was included as an amendment to House
Bill No. 1636, a bill governing the establishment, proper
governance and operation of community improvements districts.
The state constitution, however, prohibits the legislature
from passing a bill that contains more than one subject. HB
1636 contains more than one subject because its minimum wage
provision does not fairly relate to its original purpose. The
minimum wage provision is invalid, but it can be severed from
the provisions that support HB 1636's controlling
purpose. The city is not time-barred from making this
constitutional argument under a statute of limitations, which
limits the time for bringing an action but does not limit
cases in which it is raised as an affirmative defense.
Additionally, prior litigation addressing a minimum wage
issue does not bar the city from raising the preemption issue
because that prior case was not reviewed on the merits, so
there was no full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue.
ordinance does not conflict with Missouri's minimum wage
law, section 290.502. Section 290.502, considered alone or in
conjunction with section 71.010, does not conflict with the
local law, nor does it "occupy the field" of
minimum wage laws. Section 290.502 simply prohibits employers
from paying employees a wage lower than the state minimum,
and nothing in the statute prevents local governments from
adopting locally higher minimum wages. Local laws such as the
city's ordinance are within a municipality's police
powers, and the city did not improperly stray beyond its
charter authority in enacting the ordinance.
concurring in result by Judge Fischer: The author agrees with
the result reached in the principal opinion but does not join
in the principal opinion's preemption analysis, which he
believes is not necessary to the resolution of the case. HB
722 provides that local minimum wage ordinances in effect on
August 28, 2015, shall not be preempted. This includes the
city's ordinance. ...