Judge denies request to block sick-time ordinance

The scope of the ordinance will be decided in court

A Minneapolis ordinance requiring employers to offer workers paid sick time survived a legal challenge Thursday, but it didn’t make it out of Hennepin County Judge Mel Dickstein’s courtroom unscathed.

Dickstein denied the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce’s request to stop the city from enforcing the ordinance, set to go into effect July l. But the judge decided an upcoming hearing must settle the question of whether Minneapolis can force the ordinance on out-of-town businesses that operate inside the city.

The ruling allowed both sides to claim a partial victory, with City Attorney Susan Segal declaring the city was “very pleased with the court’s ruling.”

“The City prevailed on the plaintiffs’ central challenges to the ordinance,” Segal said in a statement. “The order affirms that the City’s sick leave ordinance is neither in conflict with nor preempted by state law. The court deferred for trial only the question of the exact scope of the jurisdictional reach of the ordinance.”

Chamber President Doug Loon said he, too, was “pleased” with the ruling.

“As the district court explained, ‘the city is not free to impose its public policy initiatives on companies beyond its territorial jurisdiction,’” said Loon in a statement, quoting from Dickstein’s 29-page ruling. “At the same time, we are disappointed that the court decided not to enjoin the ordinance as a whole. We hold firm in our view that the Minneapolis ordinance is contrary to state law. We intend to appeal this portion of the district court’s decision.”

The ordinance, approved by the Council in May, requires employers to offer at least one hour of sick and safe time for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 48 hours per year.

The chamber filed the lawsuit in October, seeking an injunction that would prevent the city from enforcing the ordinance. It argued the ordinance was in conflict with state law and that state rules on sick time preempted city rules.

Dickstein cast doubt on those arguments in his ruling, but he found a valid question in a third argument brought by the chamber: that Minneapolis overstepping its authority by trying to regulate businesses located outside the city limits. The ordinance applies to workers who spend at least 80 hours per year working in Minneapolis.

A statement released by the chamber described the ordinance as a flawed, “one-size-fits-all mandate” that would hamstring business. The statement described as a “burden” the requirement that employers track every hours workers spend on the clock in Minneapolis.

The chamber’s co-plaintiffs in the case include local manufacturer Graco, Inc.; Minnesota Recruiting and Staffing Association, a trade group for the workplace staffing industry; local builder Otogawa-Anschel General Contractors and Consultants; the National Federation of Independent Business; and the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce.