A federal judge in Seattle has rejected a lawsuit by city-based franchisees that sought to delay implementation of the Emerald City’s looming $15-an-hour minimum wage law.

At issue was the minimum wage measure’s inclusion of franchises in the large company category (500 or more employees), meaning that McDonald’s and other franchisees have to establish the $15-an-hour wage in three years, while smaller businesses have seven years for full implementation.

(The minimum wage law gives businesses with more than 500 employees nationally three years to phase in the increase — four if they provide health insurance. Smaller employers are allowed seven years.)

“The Ordinance is, at least putatively, designed to assist low wage workers, to decrease the gender wage gap, and to ensure that workers can better support and care for their families and fully participate in Seattle’s civic, cultural and economic life — objectives that are well within the scope of legitimate municipal policymaking,” wrote U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones in his 43-page decision issued Tuesday night.

The first phase of the new minimum wage law kicks in April 1 when large businesses must pay at least $11 an hour and small businesses at least $10 an hour.

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