Minnesota Court Upholds Status Quo Regarding Minneapolis Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

On Wednesday, May 9, 2018, the Minnesota District Court ruled on cross motions for summary judgment regarding the Minneapolis Paid Sick Leave Ordinance.  In this most recent judicial ruling in the challenge to the Ordinance, the Court upheld the status quo, determining that state law does not preempt the Ordinance, but the Ordinance cannot be enforced outside the geographic boundaries of the City of Minneapolis. 

The Ordinance, which went into effect on July 1, 2017, requires employers to provide paid sick leave to employees working within Minneapolis.  In October 2016, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, along with other employers and business associations, challenged the Ordinance.  In the initial stages of the lawsuit, the District Court declined to issue a temporary injunction prohibiting the entire Ordinance, but did issue a temporary injunction with respect to non-resident employers.  Since then, the City has been prohibited from enforcing the Ordinance against employers outside the geographic bounds of Minneapolis.

In March 2018, in response to the temporary injunction, the City of Minneapolis amended the Ordinance to clarify the geographic reach.  The Ordinance now states: “employees accrue a minimum of one (1) hour of sick and safe time for every thirty (30) hours worked within the geographic boundaries of the city up to a maximum of forty-eight (48) hours in a calendar year…” Further, “an employer is only required to allow an employee to use sick and safe time that is accrued pursuant to this ordinance when the employee is scheduled to perform work within the geographic boundaries of the city…”  The City, with the new revisions, argued that the Ordinance now had an appropriate reach. The court disagreed.  Based in part on the record keeping and administrative obligations the Ordinance places on employers, the Court determined that the Ordinance still exceeds the City’s territorial authority even as revised.  As a result, the Ordinance only applies to employers located within the geographic bounds of Minneapolis.  

While the geographic reach is limited, employers located within the city of Minneapolis must still comply with the Ordinance.  Minneapolis employers should review their handbooks and paid time off policies to ensure they are compliant with all requirements of the ordinance.  Specific attention should be paid to accrual rates, carry-over rules, and employee notice requirements. Additionally, employers located in Duluth should be aware that Duluth has introduced an Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance.  The Duluth City Council is still debating and amending the proposed Ordinance, however, the Ordinance, in some form, is expected to pass. 

If you have any questions about anything in this article, or would like help reviewing your employee handbook or paid time off policy, please contact Caitlin Andersen at 952-921-4619 or candersen@seatonlaw.com or any of the Seaton, Peters & Revnew attorneys.

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