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Minneapolis and St. Paul Sick and Safe Time Ordinance Update

It is less than four months before the Minneapolis and St. Paul Sick and Safe Time Ordinances go into effect and employers need to be aware that these ordinances, although still set to go in place, are being challenged on two fronts, one at the legislature and one in the courts, and what that means for future compliance.

Legislative Challenge Attempts to Block Existing and Future Ordinances

Earlier this legislative session a House bill to preempt local employment law ordinances, such as the Minneapolis and St. Paul safe and sick leave ordinances, was introduced.  The bill, known as the Uniform State Labor Standards Act (H.F. No. 600) recently passed vote in the House of Representatives and is set to go to the state Senate, where the Senate Companions companion measure, S.F. No. 580, is being considered.

However, Governor Dayton is expected to veto any such legislation that makes it to his desk. Therefore, in order to avoid what might be an inevitable veto, lawmakers are continuing to have discussions on combining this effort with other compromised measures to form a single bill.  Such measures might include family leave benefits and an increased minimum wage.

Court Challenge Succeeds in Narrowing Minneapolis Ordinance

While the battle is raging at the legislature, a court challenge by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and a number of other businesses seeking a temporary injunction to prevent the Minneapolis Safe and Sick Time Ordinance from taking effect is making some progress.

In an order issued on January 19, 2017, Hennepin County District Judge Mel I. Dickstein denied an absolute injunction, stating that the city has authority to enact such an ordinance within its territorial jurisdiction, it did grant a temporary injunction preventing the Minneapolis Safe and Sick Time Ordinance from impacting employers that are not located within those limits, namely the City of Minneapolis.  The court reasoned that applying the ordinance to “employees who travel to Minneapolis, for more than 80 hours in a calendar year, from as far away as China” would be an impermissible reach of the City’s authority.  However, outside employers may still be impacted if there is a strong enough nexus between its employees and the City of Minneapolis. As expected, Judge Dickstein’s ruling is likely to be appealed and may eventually make its way to the Minnesota Supreme Court. The district court stated its intention to hold a final hearing in this case prior to the July 1, 2017, effective date of the ordinance.

So What Does this Mean? 

Regardless of the continuing challenges, employers in St. Paul and Minneapolis should prepare as if the ordinances will go into effect on July 1, 2017.  Regarding Minneapolis, it means employers located outside the City, but that have employees that work within the City, should evaluate whether the ordinance will impact them. For those employers, having a plan in place now but waiting until late June to begin implementation might be prudent given the current state of affairs.

Also, employers should note that despite the pending legislation and the court challenges, Minneapolis and St. Paul are still expected to issue rules regarding their safe and sick leave ordinances on April 1, 2017.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding Minneapolis’ and St. Paul’s Safe and Sick Time Ordinances, or any other employment law questions, please contact Rinke Noonan employment attorney Chad A. Staul by email at cstaul@rinkenoonan.com or by phone at (320) 251-6700.

© 2017 Rinke Noonan