January 10, 2011; Source: Orlando Sentinel | Two nonprofits are suing the state of Florida for failing to increase the minimum wage and shortchanging workers. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Florida Legal Services and the National Employment Law Project "contend that the state has incorrectly calculated the minimum wage and is costing 188,000 workers about 6 cents an hour."
Currently employers are paying the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour, versus the state's $7.16. Under Florida law, employers pay the higher of the two rates. However, plaintiffs argue had the state correctly reset the rate for 2011, Florida's wage level would trump the federal minimum.
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Instead, the suit charges that in 2010 the state unconstitutionally lowered its 2009 rate of $7.21 an hour to $7.06, claiming the cost of living had dropped. However, court papers point out that the Florida Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that the state cannot lower its minimum wage "because of deflation."
Thus, had the rate remained at $7.21 throughout 2010, and the current cost of living index been applied, the new state rate would be $7.31 an hour, making it higher than the federal minimum wage. The suit isn't seeking any back pay for workers, but only that workers be paid at the higher rate from now on.—Bruce Trachtenberg