In this case we hold that California's minimum wage laws are not unconstitutional as applied to an organization whose purpose is political advocacy, because the compelling state interest in ensuring a minimum wage adequate to maintain a decent standard of living justifies any incidental infringement on the organization's First Amendment freedoms.
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) is an Arkansas corporation whose purpose is to advocate for low- and moderate-income persons. ACORN employs workers in California, who recruit members for local community organizations affiliated with ACORN, promote ACORN's social agenda, circulate petitions, and solicit financial contributions. ACORN pays those workers in varying ways: some receive a straight salary, some receive a salary plus commission, and some receive a straight commission. Their compensation may not rise to the level of California's minimum wage, which is currently $4.25 per hour. (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, § 11000, subd. 2.)
ACORN filed the present action seeking a declaration that California's minimum wage laws are unconstitutional as applied to ACORN and an injunction against enforcement of those laws against ACORN.
Leaving aside the latter argument's absurdity (minimum wage workers are ipso facto low-income workers) as well as irony (an advocate for the poor seeking to justify starvation wages), we find ACORN to be laboring under a fundamental misconception of the constitutional law. ACORN evidently believes that a compelling state interest justifying an incidental infringement on First Amendment freedoms, while supporting the facial validity of a government regulation, cannot support the regulation as applied. Not so. The compelling state interest test is invoked in as-applied challenges as well as facial challenges to incidental limitations on First Amendment freedoms. (Roberts v. United States Jaycees (1984) 468 U.S. 609, 623 [82 L.Ed.2d 462, 474-475, 104 S.Ct. 3244] [compelling interest in eradicating discrimination against women justified application of antidiscrimination statute to United States Jaycees]; United States v. O'Brien (1968) 391 U.S. 367, 376-377 [20 L.Ed.2d 672, 679-680, 88 S.Ct. 1673] [compelling interest in ensuring functioning of military draft system justified application of anti-draft-card-burning law to O'Brien]; cf. Hurley v. Irish-American Gay Group (1995) 515 U.S. ___ [132 L.Ed.2d 487, 506, 115 S.Ct. 2338] [no showing of legitimate interest in applying antidiscrimination statute to require organizers of parade to include members of homosexual group among marchers].) Here, just as with a facial constitutional challenge, any incidental infringement on ACORN's First Amendment freedoms may be justified by "compelling state interests, unrelated to the suppression of ideas, that cannot be achieved through means significantly less restrictive of associational freedoms." (Roberts v. United States Jaycees, supra, 468 U.S. at p. 623 [82 L.Ed.2d at p. 475].)
In its reply brief ACORN concedes, as it must, that "California's wage and hours law promotes important societal interests." Those interests include the assurance of "`a wage adequate to supply ... the necessary cost of proper living and to maintain the health and welfare'" of employees. (Industrial Welfare Com. v. Superior Court, supra, 27 Cal.3d at p. 701, quoting former Lab. Code, § 1182, enacted Stats. 1913, ch. 324, § 6, pp. 634-635; see also West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish (1937) 300 U.S. 379, 393
ACORN also contends the court should have granted leave to amend the complaint. The law on this point is well settled.
The judgment is affirmed.
Peterson, P.J., and Haning, J., concurred.