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Bloomberg Sues Again to Overturn 2012 Living Wage Law

By Colby Hamilton | December 16, 2013 9:35am | Updated on December 17, 2013 8:50am
 Mayor Michael Bloomberg filed a lawsuit in state court Friday, Dec. 13 to invalidate the city's Living Wage Law.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg filed a lawsuit in state court Friday, Dec. 13 to invalidate the city's Living Wage Law.
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DNAinfo/Colby Hamilton

CIVIC CENTER — Don’t say they’re quitting before the whistle.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office filed a lawsuit Friday in state court to have the City Council’s Living Wage Law invalidated — just two weeks before he leaves office.

This is the second attempt by the mayor’s office to nullify the legislation, which the council passed over his veto in July 2012. Earlier this year, a federal court declined to hear the case, saying Bloomberg had no standing in the federal arena — opening the door for him to file the suit in state court.

The mayor’s law office argues in the court filing that the Living Wage Law —  which seeks to force developers and businesses that receive $1 million or more in aid from the city to pay a minimum of $10 to their workers with benefits, or $11.50 an hour for those without benefits — illegally seeks to boost city workers' wages above the existing state and federal minimum wage law requirements.

It also illegally takes powers away from the mayor’s office and hands them over to the comptroller, the city argues.

The mayor refused to implement the Living Wage Law after it was passed in 2012, and is urging the Supreme Court to toss it out using the same logic that led them to nullify the Prevailing Wage Law in August.

The mayor's office argues in the lawsuit that the Living Wage Law is “materially indistinguishable from the Prevailing Wage Law," which State Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Wright struck down because he agreed it illegally preempted the state’s minimum wage law.

Still, Wright wrote in his ruling that he made his decision with reservations, since “this Court recognizes the benefit that such a law would provide.” 

The Living Wage Law and Prevailing Wage laws were spearheaded by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, among others, and her spokesman said in August, “we disagree with the judge’s decision and will take appropriate legal steps to have it overturned.”

A spokeswoman for the city's Law Department said the city excpected the same result it got in the Prevailing Wage lawsuit.

"The Living Wage Law is invalid for the same reasons, among others, that the court struck down the Prevailing Wage Law," the agency said in a statement.

The mayor's office and the speaker's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has vowed to enact an expanded Living Wage Law upon taking office.