Representing Greenville, SC

(864) 233-4351

Horton Law Firm Blog Panera Exempt from CA’s $20/hour Hourly Minimum Wage

 | Panera Exempt from CA’s $20/hour Hourly Minimum Wage

While federal law sets the minimum wage for covered employees in the U.S., states are free to set a higher a minimum wage for their own citizens. South Carolina, for its part, doesn’t have a separate hourly minimum wage, which means that the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour is the applicable standard. Thirty other states have set their own minimum wage rates higher than $7.25/hour, with Washington, D.C ($17), Washington State ($16.28), and California ($16) having the highest minimum wage levels in the country. California specifically is in the news due to some home-baking when it comes to a recent increase in pay. 

California’s Plan to Increase Minimum Wage for Certain Industries

California plans to raise its minimum wage rate to $20/hour for restaurant workers, starting in April 2024. Other industries have different levels under the changes. However, the law also bakes in a special exemption from this increase for restaurants that make and sell bread as a standalone item offered for sale. That’s a pretty unusual and very specific exemption under the law, no matter how you slice it.

Turns out, Gov. Gavin Newsom pushed for that specific amendment to be added. One of the biggest beneficiaries of the exemption is billionaire Greg Flynn, a business owner in California who owns hundreds of restaurant franchises nationwide, and specifically, owns two dozen Panera Bread restaurants in–you guessed it–California. Flynn is a longtime donor towards Gavin Newsom.

Based on this exemption, Flynn is set to avoid the rise in labor costs that his competitors will have to confront, which, ultimately, erodes crust in our public institutions. 

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for South Carolina Employees

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires covered employers to pay a certain hourly minimum wage to their employees, along with overtime pay at time-and-a-half. The federal minimum wage right now is set at $7.25/hour. This sets the floor or bottom of what covered employees must be paid. As noted above, South Carolina has never passed its own hourly minimum wage law, so we just follow the federal hourly minimum wage standard.  

Overtime pay, which I’ve blogged about before, applies to non-exempt employees, who are either hourly employees or who are salary employees who don’t meet the other requirements of any exemption. 

For South Carolina employees who don’t get paid their overtime pay or minimum wages can bring a lawsuit against the company and seek double the amount owed plus attorney’s fees and costs (that’s a lot of dough!). If you believe you are owed overtime pay or minimum wage pay, don’t loaf around. Instead, you knead to reach out to a well-bred South Carolina overtime/minimum wage attorney for a fact-specific review of your situation. I’ll give you my best advice, which is frankly the yeast that I can do for you. 

Okay, that’s all the baked-goods puns I’ve got. Until next time. 


Still Have Questions? The best way we can serve you is by starting a conversation.

Speak to an Attorney