March 9, 2015
By: Eileen Fitzgerald Addison
N.J. Business Groups Vow To Fight Paid Sick Leave Law in Trenton
A group of six business organizations—including the New Jersey Business & Industry Association and the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce—has filed a lawsuit against the City of Trenton, New Jersey, demanding the delay of a voter-approved measure requiring Trenton employers to provide their workers with paid sick leave. The coalition is asking the Mercer County Superior Court to overturn the measure, arguing that it is unconstitutional, and preempted by state statutes. The Ordinance, No. 14-45, become law on Wednesday, March 6th –120 days after 5,989 Trenton voters approved the measure in a November 2014 referendum. In its papers, the coalition argues that the City lacks legal authority to implement the Ordinance. More specifically, the group contends that the measure is a direct violation of the police powers granted to municipalities, which are subject to constitutional limits. In addition, the measure “substantially impairs” employer-employee contracts, in violation of the Contract Clause. The group further argues that the city is over-stepping its powers and cannot reach beyond its municipal boundaries to require employers located outside of Trenton to provide paid sick leave for employees who work at least 80 hours a year in the City. Christopher Gibson, the attorney for the group, said “Trenton’s mandatory paid sick leave ordinance is vague, ambiguous and contrary to New Jersey law and impossible to interpret, administer or implement.” Notably, Trenton’s law is modeled after a similar ordinance successfully implemented in Newark. The Newark law requires employers with 10 or more workers to provide up to 40 hours—accruing one hour for every 30 hours worked – of paid sick time annually. Employers with fewer than 10 workers only have to provide up to 24 hours of paid sick time. Those in the child care, home health care and food service industries are required to provide the full 40 hours regardless of their size. The referendum forced Trenton to join eight other municipalities within the state to pass such a measure. Over the past two years, local legislators in Jersey City, Newark, Passaic, East Orange, Paterson, Irvington and Montclair have passed their own versions of this ordinance. Earlier this month, Bloomfield joined the movement and passed its own paid sick leave law. Montclair, whose referendum was approved in November along with Trenton, also ushered in paid sick leave Ordinance on March 4th. Notably, a State Assembly panel passed a statewide version of the bill in December. For questions related to Trenton’s paid sick time ordinance, or compliance with your local paid sick leave laws, please contact Dina M. Mastellone, Esq., Director of the Human Resource Practices Group and Counsel in the Employment Law & Litigation Group, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Eileen Fitzgerald Addison, Esq., Associate in the Human Resource Practices Group, at email@example.com.