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Cook County Towns Face Minimum Wage Uncertainty

Posted on in Minimum Wage

minimum wage, Illinois employment law attorneyIn late October, Cook County officials elected to join the city of Chicago in adopting a plan to increase the minimum wage to $13 per hour by 2020. While the decision is being heralded by many as an important step toward increasing the quality of life for the county’s lowest-paid employees, it is also raising a number of concerns for several local communities.

Beginning in July 2017, the new minimum wage in Cook County will be $10 per hour, a substantial increase from $8.25—the current statewide minimum wage. In 2018, the minimum wage will go up to $11 per hour, with $1 per hour increases each year until 2020. The problem, however, is that a number of villages and towns straddle the line between Cook County and other surrounding counties. The line between Cook County and Lake County, for example, runs directly through the village of Barrington. The city of Elgin sits on the border between Cook County and Kane County.

Tough Choices

The communities that span more than one county are now faced with some difficult decisions. Should the minimum wage law be permitted to take effect according to county borders? If they do, they could be forced to deal with the unpleasant results of different rules for different businesses within the same town—perhaps even on the same street.

The communities also have the right to reject the county wage increase. Doing so would keep the playing field level for businesses within the individual towns, but could result in cuts to county funding that is often used to support local infrastructure.

One Community Has Decided

Last month, officials in the village of Barrington passed an ordinance that allows the municipality to opt out of any county measures that could cause division within the village. Village President Karen Darch said that such division could have a negative impact on economic development in Barrington. “[We needed] to have an ordinance that gives certainty to employers on both sides of Lake Cook Road,” she said, “[so that] the rules are the same on each side of the street.”

Barrington’s decision is now coming under a bit of fire from critics who say that by not following the county’s lead, the village is setting a precedent for a patchwork of different laws throughout the region. Village officials say that they, of course, would abide by any statewide legislation but would do what is best for the community in the meantime.

Minimum Wage Questions?

If you own a business in town spans more than one Illinois county, you may have concerns about whether the new minimum wage will apply to your company. Contact an experienced employment law attorney in Schaumburg today and get the answers you need. We will help you understand the law and your obligations. Call 847-995-1205 for a confidential consultation at The Miller Law Firm, P.C.


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Illinois State Bar Association

1051 Perimeter Drive, Suite 400
Schaumburg, IL 60173
Phone: (847) 995-1205

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