Court Orders CINTAS To Pay Its Workers A Living Wage

The California Supreme Court has let stand a Court of Appeal decision holding that Hayward’s Living Wage Ordinance is lawful and Constitutional. 

The Living Wage Ordinance (LWO) says that workers for companies that have service contracts with the City of Hayward have to be paid more than just the “minimum wage,” instead they have to be paid a living wage that is currently $10.33 per hour if health benefits are provided ($11.92 if no health benefits) and increased each year.  In comparison, the California minimum wage is $8.00 per hour and the federal minimum wage is $6.55 per hour (regardless of health benefits).

CINTAS Corporation, who provided uniform and linen services to the City of Hayward, challenged the LWO arguing that the law is unconstitutional and that it should not have to pay the living wage because the work was done in Union City and San Leandro, not Hayward.

In total, CINTAS was ordered to pay the class of plaintiffs $790,489 in unpaid hourly wages, $14,254 in unpaid vacation benefits, $258,900 in penalties for violations of various sections of the California Labor Code, $727,000 in attorneys fees, as well as pre-judgment interest and costs.

This is an important victory since it means that cities and counties all over the State of California can enact Living Wage Ordinances that cover workers doing work on their employers’ contracts with the cities and counties.  This means that there is a way to “push up” the minimum wage without waiting for the State Legislature or the U.S. Congress to act, something that can take too long.  Numerous California cities and counties have already adopted living wage ordinances.

The case is Amaral v. Cintas Corporation (City of Hayward) (2008) 163 Cal. App. 4th 1157.

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