JWG Wins Court Victory for Workers’ Rights to Fair Pay, Defeating Chamber Of Commerce Lawsuit To Invalidate Portland Hazard Pay Law

A judge on Monday sided with JWG lawyers representing low-wage Whole Foods workers and rejected a bid by the Chamber of Commerce to invalidate a Portland voter referendum that requires employers to provide hazard pay to low-wage essential workers during the pandemic. Justice Thomas Warren ruled that the emergency minimum-wage provision passed by voters is valid under the Maine Constitution and Portland City Code.

“Wednesday evening, [JWG] lawyers representing two Whole Foods workers who intervened in the case hailed the court’s decision to uphold the hazard pay ordinance.”

The Judge also decided it does not take effect until Jan. 1, 2022, but JWG lawyers will be appealing that ruling to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

“’We disagree with that interpretation and believe that the initiative can be read to have gone into effect on Dec. 6, 2020, which would be consistent with the ballot question presented to voters,’ attorney Shelby Leighton of the law firm Johnson, Webbert & Garvan, LLP.”

“Lawyer Shelby Leighton said the appeal would seek to make sure that ‘in-person, essential workers get hazard pay protections now’ and that voters wanted those workers ‘compensated, and not just praised, for their increasingly dangerous work during this pandemic.’”

Watch the WMTW Channel 8 interview here.

Read the full Portland Press Herald Article here. 

Read the full Bangor Daily News article here.

Read Johnson Webbert & Garvan’s full press release here.