Split Decision in Counties’ Challenge to Oregon Sick Leave Law

Three of the nine counties that sued to be relieved from complying with the Oregon Sick Leave law– Linn, Douglas and Yamhill – have prevailed in their challenge. The other six plaintiff-counties have dropped their challenge. 

A Linn County judge last December agreed with the plaintiff-counties that Oregon’s Sick Leave Law is an unfunded liability. Round One to the plaintiff-counties. My report on that decision is here.

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The Oregon Constitution states that if a local government must spend more than one hundredth of one percent of its budget on an unfunded new program or increased level of service, the local government “is not required to comply” with the law.  Round Two dealt with whether the counties met this spending threshold on the PSL law. A trial had been scheduled for mid-July to resolve that issue.

The case has been settled. The judge had ruled that Linn, Douglas and Yamhill had established the .01% threshold, according to a news report.  The other plaintiff-counties dropped their challenge. The State has reserved the right to appeal the judge’s decision that the Sick Leave Law is an unfunded liability.  

The Oregon Sick Leave Law requires employers with at least ten employees (six in Portland) to provide up to forty hours of paid sick leave annually. Smaller employers must provide unpaid sick leave. This litigation dealt only with the plaintiff-counties as employers. It did not involve private employers.