I’m not sure what they’re suing about if even the International Franchise Association acknowledges that franchises are different from “local small businesses”:
“Who in their right mind wants to become a franchisee in Seattle now? They are immediately placed at a competitive disadvantage to local small businesses,” said Matt Haller, a spokesman for the International Franchise Association, based in Washington, D.C.
As I understand the English language, to assert that franchisees are at “a competitive disadvantage to local small businesses” inherently implies that franchisees are not local small businesses. Which of course runs counter to the IFA’s entire legal argument. Haller didn’t say “other” local small businesses, because franchisees are clearly different. If it was a slip, it was a Freudian one.
Regardless, this motion for a preliminary injunction is just grandstanding. A) Seattle’s $15 minimum wage law doesn’t go into effect until April. The lower court will almost certainly decide the underlying suit before then, so there’s no chance for “irreparable harm.” And B), to grant an injunction the court would have to determine that the IFA has a decent chance of prevailing on its hilarious claims, and that just doesn’t seem likely given the past 80 years of legal precedent.
In responding to a recent National Labor Relations Board recommendation that franchisors and franchisees be designated as “joint-employers,” the IFA responded by claiming that this would “threaten the sanctity of hundreds of thousands of contracts between franchisees and franchisors.” It is a similar legal argument to what the IFA has been making against Seattle’s $15 minimum wage ordinance.
Indeed, the IFA is banking on nothing less than returning to the pre-New Deal legal framework of the Lochner era, in which the right of parties to enter into private contracts trumps the right of government to regulate business. Under this framework, not only would Seattle’s minimum wage be unconstitutional, but all minimum wages would. As well as most other federal, state, and local business regulations.
I wouldn’t put anything beyond the schemes of the right-of-right Roberts court, but until that happens, it’s hard to imagine a US District court judge viewing the IFA’s radical claims as being credible enough to warrant an injunction.