Trenton, New Jersey, like numerous other municipalities (especially in New Jersey), recently enacted its own paid sick leave law. As with Seattle’s recent minimum wage rulemaking, a coalition of New Jersey business groups challenged the city’s authority to do so, urging that the ordinance exceeded the city’s police powers and offended constitutional protections. New Jersey Business and Industry Association et al. v. City of Trenton, case number L-467-15, Mercer Co. Superior Court.
Last week, Judge Mary C. Jacobson granted Trenton’s motion to dismiss the action, finding the municipality had a rational basis to enact the ordinance and that the city’s representation that the law would only be applied to employers in the municipality (notwithstanding any vagueness in the drafting of the coverage provision) addressed some of the plaintiffs’ allegations regarding the scope of the law. The ordinance, like many other recently-enacted city leave laws, defines an employee as someone who works in Trenton for 80 hours per year, with certain exceptions. The business group Plaintiffs asserted that, as drafted, the law could affect employers that don’t have offices in the city.
In nearby Pennsylvania, state legislators have introduced a bill designed to preempt the City of Philadelphia’s sick leave measure, noting that patchwork municipal leave laws have unintended consequences, such as pushing industry outside city limits to avoid coverage.
Employers with multiple locations must develop a plan for continued compliance with this growing legislation trend while seeking to avoid burdensome administration.