Pittsburgh's Paid Sick Days Ordinance is Found to be Invalid and Unenforceable

In a ruling issued December 21, 2015, a trial court judge held that the City of Pittsburgh did not have the authority under state law to enact the Paid Sick Days Ordinance that Pittsburgh's City Council passed on August 3, 2015.  It remains to be seen whether the City of Pittsburgh will appeal this decision.

After the City of Pittsburgh passed the Paid Sick Days Ordinance, which would require employers to provide employees with a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every 35 hours an employee works in the city limits, a group that included the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association and several local restaurants and businesses challenged the City's authority to enact such legislation.

The challenge was based on the fact that under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh is a home rule charter municipality.  Under state law, "a municipality which adopts a home rule charter shall not determine duties, responsibilities or requirements placed upon businesses, occupations and employers . . . except as expressly provided by the statutes which are applicable in every part of this Commonwealth or which are applicable to all municipalities or to a class or classes of municipalities."  Citing an earlier Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling, the trial court found that the Paid Sick Days Ordinance imposed a requirement on employers and therefore was invalid and unenforceable. 

The City of Pittsburgh had argued that state law permits cities to pass ordinances relating to disease prevention and control, but the trial court noted that the provision of state law that the City relied upon applies only to municipalities that have boards of health or a department of health.  Pittsburgh has neither.  

It is unclear whether the City will appeal.  In the meantime, the judge's order staying the enforcement of the Ordinance until at least March 11, 2016 remains in place.  We will continue to monitor this litigation.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.