Arizona Employers Can Face Requirements Going Beyond State Law

Arizona’s Supreme Court has declined to disturb a ruling that permits local governments to mandate that private employers provide greater fringe benefits to employees than state law requires. Meyer v. State of Arizona (Ariz. 2019).

The case stems from a 2006 ballot initiative that raised Arizona’s minimum wage above the federal minimum. The initiative’s language also gave local governments the authority to require payment of higher wages or benefits beyond state law.

A decade later, Arizona legislators removed the power to regulate such benefits from local governments. But in early 2019, the Arizona Court of Appeals struck down that law and ruled that the right to regulate wages and benefits also belongs to counties, cities, and towns. Last month, Arizona’s highest court let that ruling stand despite pleas from the Arizona Restaurant Association to overturn it.

The result represents a defeat for preemption efforts, as it includes not just the minimum wage—now $11 an hour in Arizona and headed to $12 an hour on January 1, 2020—but requirements for any benefits, including leave time, meal breaks or health insurance.