Appeals Court Rules Minneapolis Sick Leave Can Stand
Supporters and detractors of Minneapolis’ paid sick leave ordinance will both have things to celebrate and grumble about in latest judicial decision.
In an unpublished opinion released on Monday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed a district court ruling that said the city could continue to enforce the ordinance for Minneapolis-based employers but enjoined it from doing so for employers headquartered elsewhere.
Minneapolis’ ordinance, passed in May 2016, required employers to provide up to 48 hours of paid “sick and safe time” leave for any employee that works at least 80 hours within city limits. Workers are allowed to use it for personal or family illness, sexual or domestic assault, or school closings.
A suit filed in October 2016 by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, alongside several other organizations, argued that the ordinance created mandates in an area where the state had already flexed its muscle and that it created rules that extended beyond the city’s geographic boundaries.
A Hennepin County district court’s January ruling allowed the ordinance to go into effect in July, as intended, but limited its scope only to Minneapolis employers while the case went through the judicial system.
“We are pleased that the City prevailed again on the question of the authority to pass this ordinance,” Minneapolis city attorney Susan Segal said in a statement after the ruling.
While the appeals court did not rule on the merits of the ordinance itself, it did contrast several different instances of cities creating similar, but non-conflicting, ordinances alongside the state laws, as well as instances of alleged extraterritoriality (or the city making rules outside its geographic scope). There, they noted that several other ordinances were allowed to stand so long as the rules took place within city limits.
“The court … noted that the City’s argument is strong that the ordinance should apply to any employee while they are working in Minneapolis, regardless of where they are based,” Segal added. “We are confident that a permanent injunction will be denied and the City will be able to fully implement the ordinance.”
The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce called the ruling “mixed,” and promised to appeal to the state Supreme Court.
“We’re pleased that the court prevented Minneapolis from imposing its ordinance on businesses that don’t even have any physical presence in the city,” said chamber president Doug Loon. “At the same time, we’re disappointed that the Court of Appeals allowed the underlying Minneapolis ordinance to stand. We respectfully believe that the court misapplied the law regarding the city’s authority.”
Should the Supreme Court decide to take the case, the challenge will be closely watched throughout the state. St. Paul has a similar sick-leave policy on the books, and the City of Duluth has proposed implementing one as well.