June 17, 2009
Milwaukee's Paid Sick Leave Ordinance Struck Down
The National Law Journal reports that last Friday, a Wisconsin judge struck down Milwaukee's sick leave law, which had been enjoined before it could go into effect, as unconstitutional under rules for disclosure on ballot initiatives. The ordinance had provided that employers with 10 or more employees were required to provide paid sick leave to employees up to a maximum of 72 hours per employee per year. Employers with fewer than 10 employees were required to provide the benefit to employees up to a maximum of 40 hours per employee per year. The ordinance had contained an additional provision that made domestic abuse victims eligible for paid sick days for taking time off to seek shelter or pursue legal action. This provision didn't fit the single subject that the bill purported to cover in the judge's view, prompting him to make this statement that is rather puzzling to me, "The provisions regarding domestic violence and sexual assault are not rationally related to the ordinance's overall objective of protecting the public welfare, health, safety and prosperity of the city." Update: see the comment below for the context of the quote and the url for the decision
Most of the controversy about the bill had been the fact that it was a city ordinance rather than a state or federal law. From the article,
Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker expressed similar sentiments.
"This is good news for everyone concerned about jobs in Milwaukee. Had the sick leave ordinance been implemented, it would have surely driven jobs out of the city. We can not afford to push jobs out of our community," Walker said in a statement.
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Before hashing out a blind opinion, may I recommend reading the entire context of the quote, "The provisions regarding domestic violence and sexual assault are not rationally related to the ordinance's overall objective of protecting the public welfare, health, safety and prosperity of the city." The judge made it clear that while on its face, domestic violence and sexual assault fall within the context of "public welfare, health, etc." this was not how the objective was in fact limited. Rather, the objective was framed in terms of illness and medical conditions. Therefore, domestic violence and sexual assault are not rationally related.
The entire opinion is available at: http://mmac.org/ImageLibrary/Decision_and_Order_of_Judge_Cooper_dated_6-12-09_(A3336894).PDF
Posted by: Anonymous | Jun 18, 2009 8:30:27 AM
Thanks for the link. The entire quote had not been in the news, and I had not been able to track down the decision.
Posted by: Marcia McCormick | Jun 18, 2009 8:01:36 PM