Judge Rejects Milwaukee's Paid Sick Leave Mandate

A Milwaukee judge struck down the city's newly enacted ordinance requiring employers to provide paid sick leave, but employment lawyers say it may do little to slow down growing national support for legislation to make paid sick leave a basic employee right.

On June 12, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Cooper granted summary judgment to the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC), which challenged the ordinance on the grounds that it placed an unconstitutional burden on employers. MMAC asserted that the ordinance was improperly enacted because it included language extending coverage for absences due to domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking that was not included in a ballot question approved by voters in November 2008. Furthermore, MMAC contended that this posed an unconstitutional exercise of police power.

Different Reactions

While Milwaukee's ordinance stirred up controversy, employment lawyers in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., say that client reactions to paid sick leave laws have been mild--in large part because most of them already have polices at least as generous as the ordinances' requirements.

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