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Sick Leave Rules Upheld, Limited to Minneapolis

Chad Staul

Good News and Bad News Regarding the Minneapolis Safe and Sick Time Ordinance

A long awaited Minnesota Court of Appeals decision brings mixed news regarding the implementation of the Minneapolis Safe and Sick Time Ordinance (the “Ordinance”).  The bad news is that despite its best efforts, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce was not successful in its attempt to dispose of the Ordinance by arguing it was preempted by state law.  Although the Court recognized the possibility that a “checkerboard of conflicting regulations” might exist for employers, possible logistical headaches in implementing such regulations were simply not enough to prevent local governments from establishing their own sick leave regulations.

The good news, however, is that the Court bought some certainty for employers by stating that the Ordinance only applies to employers with a physical presences within the geographical boundaries of the City of Minneapolis.  As initially interpreted, the Ordinance arguably applied employers with any employees within the City of Minneapolis, regardless of where the employer was actually located.  Prior to this most recent decision, a lower court put in place an injunction that prevented the City of Minneapolis from enforcing the ordinance on employers that were located outside the City’s geographical boundaries. This recent Court of Appeals decision leaves that restriction in place.

So what about St. Paul’s safe and sick time ordinance?  The St. Paul ordinance was not a part of this lawsuit or the court decisions affecting the Minneapolis ordinance. Despite this, due to the fact that the St. Paul ordinance largely mirrors the one in Minneapolis, the powers that be are enforcing it in the same way. In other words, until we hear different, the St. Paul ordinance will likewise only apply to employers with a physical presence in the City of St. Paul.

At this point, I anticipate that the fight over the Ordinance is not yet done and that an appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court is the logical next step. However, until that takes place employers have a good measure of certainty about whether the Ordinance applies.

Employers with questions about the safe and sick time ordinances or with any other employment law related questions can contact Attorney Chad A. Staul at cstasul@rinkenoonan.com or by calling (320) 656-3515.

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