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Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul
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May 5, 2022


Raoul Files Briefs Supporting $15 Minimum Wage for Federal Contract Workers

Chicago  — Attorney General Kwame Raoul led a coalition of attorneys general supporting the federal government’s actions to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour for certain federal contractors. The policy was first enacted by presidential executive order in April 2021, and then implemented by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in November 2021 in the final rule, “Increasing the Minimum Wage for Federal Contract Workers.”

Raoul and the coalition submitted amicus briefs in Arizona v. Walsh, Texas v. Biden, and Bradford v. U.S. Department of Labor, three lawsuits challenging the DOL’s authority to increase the minimum wage paid to federal contract workers. Raoul and the states argue that both the president and the DOL acted well within their authority when implementing the policies to ensure federal contract workers are paid fair living wages. In addition, Raoul and the attorneys general argue that such policies benefit workers, employers and consumers around the country.

“All employees have a right to be paid fair wages that allow them to provide for themselves and their families,” Raoul said. “We all benefit when workers in our states earn decent living wages, and I am committed to continuing to advocate for the rights of all workers to receive fair compensation regardless of where they are employed.”

At issue in the underlying lawsuits is an executive order and follow-up rule increasing the minimum wage for certain federal contractors, which had been set at $10.10 per hour since 2014. In addition to increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour, the executive order and rule rescinded an exception created in 2018, which exempted federal contractors who provide seasonal recreational services and equipment – such as recreational outfitters operating on federal land – from the minimum age requirements. The rule has since been challenged in court by state coalitions led by Texas and Arizona, as well as a number of businesses that provide seasonal recreational services on federal land.

In their briefs, Raoul and the coalition point to the ways an increased minimum wage benefits employers, employees and consumers. The briefs cite studies and reports demonstrating that an increased minimum wage leads to improved morale and productivity, reduced turnover and absenteeism, as well as improved income equality and decreased poverty for federal contractual workers. Those benefits in turn, lead to improved service and enhance consumer experiences.

The amicus brief is the latest collaboration Raoul has led with states around the country to protect the rights of workers. In 2020, Raoul filed two lawsuits challenging DOL rules that impermissibly altered protections for tipped workers and eliminated key protections for workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act. In 2022, Raoul led a multistate coalition in an amicus brief supporting transportation workers’ rights in Southwest v. Saxon (U.S. 21-209), and also filed two amicus briefs in support of Illinois workers’ rights under the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law.

Attorney General Raoul encourages workers who have concerns about wage and hour violations or potentially unsafe working conditions to call his Workplace Rights Hotline at 1-844-740-5076 or file an online complaint.

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