Turning the Paid Sick Leave Page to 2018

As we turned the PSL page to a new year, the vast and complex patchwork of PSL laws consisted of more than 40 laws: 8 state laws, the District of Columbia, 2 county laws and about 30 municipal laws.

The Rhode Island Healthy and Safe Families and Workplace Act was the only PSL law enacted in 2017, the fewest number of PSL laws enacted in a year since 2011.  The Maryland and Nevada legislatures passed PSL bills last year but, in each case, the governor vetoed the bill. On January 11, 2018, the Maryland legislature overrode that veto, making Maryland the ninth PSL state.

In the only 2017 PSL referendum, Albuquerque voters very narrowly rejected the Healthy Workforce Ordinance.  Prior to the vote, lawsuits challenged the manner in which the proposal would be printed on the ballot and its constitutionality.

Paid Sick Leave Laws Effective in 2017

Nine PSL laws went into effect in 2017. While the Spokane ordinance is one of these, it “sunset,” became null and void, on January 1, 2018.  Also, while the Cook County ordinance went into effect in 2017, approximately 80% of the municipalities within the County have opted out of complying with the Ordinance. The nine are:


Other political subdivisions

Paid Sick Leave Laws Effective After 2017


Other political subdivisions

Louvre Sculpture

Paid Sick Leave Bills Introduced During 2017

Many were introduced, one was enacted: Rhode Island. PSL bills were also introduced in Alaska, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Virginia. As noted above, Maryland enacted its PSL law in January 2018 by overriding its governor’s veto.

PSL bills were also introduced last year in Albuquerque, Portland, ME, and Westchester County, NY.

Paid Sick Leave Preemption Legislative Developments

Six states passed laws preempting political subdivisions from enacting a paid sick leave law. The 2017 additions to my list of now 22 preemption states are Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, Rhode Island and South Carolina. Maryland is added as a preemption state as well since the newly-enacted law preempts political subdivisions from enacting a paid sick leave law but grandfathers in the Montgomery County PSL law.

Paid Sick Leave Litigation

 Challenges to state PSL laws

Arizona:  A cadre of business interests sought to enjoin implementation of Proposition 206, which increased the minimum wage and required most Arizona employers to provide paid sick days. In a March ruling and an August opinion, the Arizona Supreme Court rejected the challenge. Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry et al v. State of Arizona et al (No. CV–16–0314–SA, August 2, 2017).

Massachusetts: A railroad claimed that the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA), Railway Labor Act and ERISA preempted the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law (MESTL) with regard to interstate rail carriers. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held that the RUIA preempted that section of the MESTL dealing with benefits for an employee’s own medical condition and remanded the case to have the district court decide whether any other sections were preempted by the RUIA or the Railway Labor Act or ERISA. CSX Transportation, Inc. v. Healey (1st Cir. June 23, 2017).

Oregon: A lawsuit brought by nine counties challenging the Oregon Paid Sick Leave Law as applied to them as employers was settled in July 2017, though one issue was reserved for appeal. Under the state constitution, if a local government must spend more than .01% of its budget on a new law, it is an unfunded liability and the local government need not comply with it. With the settlement, three of the nine counties–Linn, Douglas and Yamhill–need not comply with the Oregon Paid Sick Leave law unless and until there is a change in the law’s funding or the counties’ cost of compliance with the PSL law. The State reserved the right to appeal the judge’s decision that the Sick Leave Law is a “program” under the state constitution. Linn County et al v. Katie Brown as Governor, et al (Or. Cir. Ct. 23rd Dist., No. 16CV17209).

Washington: A cadre of business interests sought to enjoin implementation of Initiative 1433, passed by voters in November 2016, which increases the minimum wage and requires employers to provide paid sick time. A trial court rejected their arguments. They did not appeal. Haberman et al v. State of Washington,  Kittitas County Superior Court (Case No. 17-2.00041-1).

Challenges to local PSL laws

Pittsburgh, PA: The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has agreed to decide whether the City of Pittsburgh had authority to enact the Sick Days Act. In May, an appellate court affirmed a lower court’s decision that the City did not have the authority to enact it and invalidated the Act.  The dissenting judge said that Pittsburgh had the right to protect the health and safety of its residents and that the Sick Days Act was an exercise of that right. Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Ass’n v. City of Pittsburgh and Service Employees Int’l Union, Local 32 BJ.  (Pa. Supreme Court,  227 WAL 2017).

Minneapolis, MN:  The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed a January 2017 lower court decision that the Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time Ordinance applies to businesses within the City’s geographic boundaries but not to businesses outside the City limits.  The Supreme Court of Minnesota in December declined to review the Court of Appeals’ decision, which leaves the appeals decision in place. Minnesota Chamber of Commerce et al vs City of Minneapolis et al (MN Supreme Court, Case No. A17-0131).

Alabama: Marnika Lewis v.  State of Alabama et al. (11th Cir., No.17-11009). In February, a federal court judge rejected challenges to the Alabama Uniform Minimum Wage and Right-to-Work Act, which bars political subdivisions from requiring employers to provide employees with wages or “employment benefits,” which includes paid and unpaid leave, not required by federal or state law. The plaintiffs have appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Oral argument on the appeal is likely to be held in the first quarter of 2018.

Other Paid Sick Leave Developments to Watch

In 2015, then-President Obama signed Executive Order 13706, Establishing Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors, which requires certain government contractors to provide certain employees with paid sick leave. While there has been speculation about whether the Trump Administration will rescind this EO, it has not done so and the EO is in effect.

Austin, TX: The City Council agreed to consider requiring private employers to offer employees paid sick leave.  The city staff will submit a recommendation to the Council.

Duluth, MN: The Safe and Sick Time Task Force in November presented its recommendations for  a sick and safe time ordinance to the City Council.

Michigan: The Board of State Canvassers has approved a petition to allow proponents of a PSL law to collect signatures in an effort to have the Act on the ballot this November.


This post references 2017 PSL developments in more than half of the  states. Rest assured that at the end of 2018, the PSL patchwork will be more vast and more complex than it is today. Just eleven days into 2018, we already had a new state PSL law. .

I look forward to PSL-2018. Thank you for following my blog.