Bradford v. U.S. Department of Labor 

On February 15, 2022, the National Women’s Law Center—alongside the National Employment Law Project, Communications Workers of America, Service Employees International Union, and the Economic Policy Institute—submitted an amicus brief to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Bradford v. U.S. Department of Labor. Represented by Democracy Forward, amici filed the brief in support of the U.S. Department of Labor’s implementation of the $15/hour minimum wage for workers on federal contracts and opposing the plaintiffs’ motion for an injunction pending appeal.

In April 2021, President Biden issued an executive order increasing the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15/hour and rescinding a Trump-era executive order that exempted certain employers from the requirement. The Department of Labor then issued a final rule, after notice and comment, implementing the executive order in November 2021. A few employers who had been exempted from the minimum-wage requirement under the Trump rule sued to stop the changes from going into effect, arguing that President Biden did not have the legal authority under the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 (Procurement Act) to issue the executive order. On January 24, 2022, the Colorado district court rejected the employers’ request for an injunction, allowing the Biden rule to go into effect. The employers appealed the decision to the Tenth Circuit.

Our amicus brief defended the Biden rule and explained that President Biden and the Department of Labor were legally authorized to rescind the Trump rule and require employers (including those previously exempted) to pay workers on federal contracts at least $15 per hour. This is because the Department of Labor reasonably concluded that increasing the federal contractor minimum wage to $15/hour would promote employee productivity and retention, while helping to remedy the racial and gender gaps among the federal contractor workforce. Because the Biden administration had persuasive evidence-based economic and policy reasons for making these changes, President Biden was authorized by the Procurement Act to issue and implement the executive order. Thus, our amicus brief urged the Tenth Circuit to uphold the Biden rule and reject the employers’ attempt to evade this minimum wage requirement.

On February 17, 2022, the Tenth Circuit issued a decision granting the plaintiffs’ request for a temporary injunction and blocking the $15 minimum wage rule from being enforced while the case proceeds. Without elaborating, the court held that the employers had shown “an entitlement to relief” from the rule such that the government could not impose the minimum wage requirement on federal contractors in connection with seasonal recreational services or recreational equipment rental for the general public on federal lands.

On April 27, 2022, NWLC, along with the National Employment Law Project, Communications Workers of America, Service Employees International Union, and the Economic Policy Institute, represented by Democracy forward, filed a second amicus brief in the Tenth Circuit urging the court to reject efforts to cut workers’ wages and affirm the district courts denial of an injunction.

On August 2, 2022, with the Tenth Circuit appeal on the injunction pending, NWLC joined an amicus brief to the Colorado district court on the merits of this case. Represented by Democracy Forward, NWLC joined the National Employment Law Project, Communications Workers of America, Service Employees International Union, the Economic Policy Institute, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, CWA Local 7781, the National Partnership for Women & Families, Nebraska Appleseed, and Indiana Community Action Poverty Center to file the brief in support of the Department of Labor’s motion for summary judgment and opposition to the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment.

 

Arizona v. Walsh 

On May 9, 2022, NWLC co-led a proposed amicus brief defending the $15 minimum wage for workers on federal contracts in Arizona v. Walsh. Represented by Democracy Forward, NWLC joined the National Employment Law Project, Communications Workers of America, Service Employees International Union, Economic Policy Institute, Indiana Community Action Poverty Institute, and Grand Canyon Institute to submit the amicus brief to the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, urging the court to uphold the Biden administration rule governing wages for federal contractors.

 

Texas v. Biden  

On May 9, 2022, NWLC co-led an amicus brief defending the $15 minimum wage for workers on federal contracts in Texas v. Biden. Represented by Democracy Forward, NWLC joined the Texas AFL-CIO, Every Texan, Southwest Laborers’ District Council, National Employment Law Project, Communications Workers of America, Service Employees International Union, Economic Policy Institute, and Indiana Community Action Poverty Institute, to submit the amicus brief to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, urging the court to uphold the Biden administration rule governing wages for federal contractors.