Judge Says Mpls. Sick Leave Ordinance Cannot Be Enforced Against Non-Resident Employers

Hennepin County District Judge Mel Dickstein has ruled that the City cannot enforce its sick leave ordinance against so-called “non-resident employers” – employers without a physical presence in the city.

Basis for the Decision

The Minneapolis ordinance requires that sick leave be provided to any employee working in the city for 80 hours or more per year.  The court found that the burden imposed on non-resident employers by the ordinance outweighed the benefit to the health and safety of  Minneapolis residents:

“Any potential benefit to the health and safety of Minneapolis residents from an employee who works the requisite 80 hours pales when weighed against the imposition of record keeping and administrative obligations incurred by companies located outside the City.”

What Might Happen Next

The court left open the possibility that a more narrowly-tailored ordinance could be enforced against non-resident employers:

It is one thing to impose tracking and record keeping requirements on companies located outside of Minneapolis whose employees work for significant periods in Minneapolis, and will materially benefit from the Minneapolis Ordinance. It is quite another matter to impose, extraterritorially, requirements regarding employees who rarely work in Minneapolis, and who won’t materially benefit from its provisions.

As a result, the judge concluded that “the Minneapolis Ordinance exceeds the City’s territorial authority” and he enjoined the City from enforcing the Ordinance against any employer resident outside the geographic boundaries of the City of Minneapolis.

Bottom Line

While both parties will likely appeal Judge Dickstein’s decision, the City of Minneapolis will continue to be precluded from applying its ordinance against employers that are “resident outside the geographic boundaries of the City . . .”.  Most have construed this to mean that the employer must actually own or rent property located within the City.

This standard is similar to the standard that has been imposed in St. Paul, which requires employers to have a “physically permanent location in Saint Paul” in order for the ordinance to apply.