AN ACT AMENDING THE NORTH CAROLINA CONSTITUTION TO SET THE STATE MINIMUM WAGE.
Subject to voter approval at the November 6, 2018, general election, adds new Section 38 to Article I of the Constitution requiring employers to pay employees no less than the minimum wage for all hours worked in the state and establishing the minimum wage to be $8.80 per hour six months after the amendment's enactment with an increase on January 1 of successive years by the increase in cost of living. Effective December 1, 2018.
Subject to voter approval as described above, new Section 38 more specifically entitles citizens to a minimum wage sufficient to provide a decent and healthy life for them and their families, that protects their employers from unfair low-wage competition, and that does not force them to rely on taxpayer-funded public services. Requires the Department of Labor to annually adjust the minimum wage on September 30, beginning the year the amendment is enacted, to reflect any increase in the consumer price index, CPI-U, or its successor index as calculated by the US Department of Labor. Requires each adjusted minimum wage rate to be published and effective on the following January 1. Specifies that employers can credit toward satisfaction of the minimum wage tips up to the amount of the allowable FLSA tip credit in 2003 for eligible tipped employees. Makes it unlawful for an employer or other party to discriminate or take adverse action against any person in retaliation for exercising rights protected by the amendment, which include the right to file a complaint or inform any person about any party's alleged noncompliance and the right to inform any person of his or her potential rights and assist him or her in asserting those rights. Establishes that a prevailing party in a civil action against an employer or person violating the amendment must recover the full amount of any back wages unlawfully withheld plus liquidated damages and reasonable attorneys' fees and costs, in addition to any appropriate legal or equitable relief. Further, subjects any employer or person found in willful violation to a $1,000 fine for each violation. Authorizes the Attorney General or other official designated by the General Assembly to bring a civil action to enforce the amendment. Establishes a statute of limitations of four years, or five years in the case of willful violations. Permits claims under the amendment to be brought as a class action. Allows the General Assembly to establish additional remedies or fines for violations, raise the minimum wage rate, reduce the tip credit, or extend coverage of the amendment by statute, but clarifies that implementation legislation is not necessary to enforce this amendment. Authorizes the General Assembly or the Department of Labor to adopt appropriate implementation measures. Adds that case law, administrative interpretations, and other guiding standards developed under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act guide the construction of the amendment and any implementing statutes or regulations. Includes a severability clause.
Subject to voter approval of new Section 38 of Article I of the Constitution, makes conforming changes to GS 95-25.3, conforming the minimum wage to that as described in new Section 38 of the Constitution and providing for the annual cost of living increase beginning on January 1, 2019. Directs the Commissioner of Labor to calculate the indexed minimum wage rate to the nearest cent.