Spokane Ballot Initiative Could Require Employers to Pay a "Family Wage"

October 23, 2015

Voters in Spokane, Washington will vote this fall on a proposition that could require employers to pay a yet to be determined "family wage" and to prove "cause" for firing or laying off a worker, and which would establish broad equal pay rules.  Under the Worker Bill of Rights, businesses with 150 or more employees would have to pay a "family wage" set by the city that would be based on certain parameters, such as "basic needs," "future emergencies" and working "without public assistance."  It reportedly could be set anywhere from $11.85 to $28.11 per hour and would be phased in over two years, then indexed to inflation.  The ballot proposition would also:

  • Establish an equal pay requirement based on "gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, familial status, race, ethnicity, national origin, citizenship, economic class, religion, age or developmental, mental, or physical ability"; and
  • Require employers to prove lay-offs and terminations are based on "work performance," or "necessary for economic hardship," and show they have a "fair, objective, and non-discriminatory termination process" that lets workers oppose the termination.
The Spokane election is set for November 3.