Pittsburgh’s Paid Sick Days Act Declared Null and Void

On December 21, 2015, the “Paid Sick Days Act” (the “Act”), which was passed by the Pittsburgh City Council in August 2015, was declared null and void by Judge Joseph James of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. The Act was originally set to take effect on January 11, 2016, but a legal challenge delayed the effective date to March 10, 2016. Following Judge James’ ruling, and barring a successful appeal, Pittsburgh employers worried about implementing the Act’s provisions can breathe a sigh of relief.

We previously issued an alert detailing many of the Act’s provisions. The lawsuit challenging the Act was brought by the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association and a group of local businesses, which argued that the Act “ignores the individual business realities facing employers” and violates the statutory limits on the City of Pittsburgh’s (the “City”) power.

One of those limits – the Home Rule Charter and Optional Plans Law – prohibits a municipality that has adopted a home rule charter from determining the “duties, responsibilities or requirements” placed upon businesses, occupations and employers, except where the municipality has express statutory authority to do so. 53 Pa. C.S. § 2962(f).

Citing this provision in his opinion, Judge James determined the City did not have authority to adopt the Act. In making this determination, he rejected arguments set forth by the City that it was empowered to adopt the Act pursuant to the Disease Prevention and Control Law and the Second Class City Code. Instead, Judge James found no such authority, and therefore, that the Act violated the Home Rule Charter and Optional Plans Law in that it “places affirmative duties on businesses, occupations and employers[.]”

Accordingly, barring a successful appeal by the City, Pittsburgh employers do not need to implement the requirements of the Act or otherwise revise their policies to comply with it.

Leech Tishman will provide further updates on the Paid Sick Days Act, if any. Leech Tishman is available to assist your organization with any questions regarding paid sick leave or other leave-related questions and concerns. For more information on our Employment Practice Group, please click here.

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