Paid Sick Leave Focus Shifts to Albuquerque Lawsuits

After spending most of the past few months on the [20% of] Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance, the PSL focus shifts to Albuquerque, the Duke City.

Two lawsuits are pending concerning the Albuquerque ballot referendum on the Healthy Workforce Ordinance (HWO)–one brought by HWO proponents, the other by opponents.

My earlier post concerning the judge’s recent decision in the proponents’ lawsuit was based on a newspaper report. Thanks to a little help from my friends, I now have the judge’s decision, which adds some insight. According to that decision:

  • The HWO will be on the October 3, 2017 ballot, and will be printed in 7-point type on a single two-sided page, 8 1/2 in. X 19 in,;
  • The City will have “magnifier devices” and copies of the proposed HWO in 12-point type available to voters at the polling places;
  • The City’s proposed “advisory question” is stricken from the ballot because it “employs semantically ‘loaded’ terms and clearly implies that the proposed HWO is not transparent, fair, wise or workable. It is likely to mislead, confuse, or misdirect the voters….[and] is an inappropriate attempt to inject political advocacy onto the ballot and into the election process.”
  • The stricken proposed advisory question asked: “Shall the governing boy of CABQ [City of Albuquerque] promptly enact a sick leave ordinance in a manner that promotes pubic participation, public hearings, transparency and fairness so that a wise and workable sick leave policy is adopted…””

Concerning the opponents’ litigation, a hearing was held in court yesterday. The judgechopped-wood-1846182_1920 did not issue a decision on the HWO at the hearing. My post about that “single subject,” aka “logrolling,” case is here.

Finally, for those who have not had enough of the [20% of] Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance, I added the Village of Dixmoor to my opt out list, which now has 110 entries.



Second “Single Subject” Challenge to Voter-Approved Paid Sick Leave Rejected

The challenge to the constitutionality of the Washington State November 2016 voter referendum approving paid sick leave and a minimum wage increase has been rejected. A similar challenge to last year’s Arizona referendum approving paid sick leave and a minimum wage increase was rejected by the Arizona Supreme Court a few weeks ago.


In Washington, a cadre of business interests argued that the voter initiative violated the state constitution because it combined two “distinct and unrelated matters” in one bill.

Rejecting that argument, the Kittitas County Superior Court judge held that the ballot title referenced “labor standards”; that minimum wages and paid sick leave are compensation, a subset of “labor standards”; and that “rational unity” exists between the title and content of the Initiative.  The court also held that the ballot title gave voters adequate notice of the issues within and that the initiative could “stand alone,” without reference to amending any other law, because mandatory paid sick leave was a “new category of employee leave.”

The judge’s three page ruling relied extensively on a 2015 Supreme Court of Washington decision rejecting a similar challenge to a bill providing paid sick days and minimum wage increase in SeaTac, Washington.

Another “single subject” legal challenge to a voter referendum is pending in New Mexico.  There, a cadre of business interests have challenged this fall’s anticipated ballot initiative on paid sick leave.  They claim that combining the fourteen “non-interdependent” provisions into one voter initiative is “logrolling” in violation of  the state constitution. My post on that lawsuit is here.


Washington Lawsuit Challenges Voter-Approved  Paid Sick Leave and Minimum Wage Increase

Add a challenge to the State of Washington’s new paid sick leave law to the PSL litigation docket.  A cadre of business interests sued the state last week, seeking a declaration that Initiative 1433 violates the Washington Constitution.  More than 57% of Washington voters approved Initiative 1433 last November.ballot-1294935_640

It requires employers to provide paid sick leave beginning on January 1, 2018 and increases the state minimum wage in installments, the first having occurred on January 1, 2017.

The complaint alleges that the Initiative is unconstitutional  because:

It combined two “distinct and unrelated matters,” i.e, the minimum wage and paid sick days, in violation of the Constitution’s prohibition on including more than one subject in a bill (the plaintiffs challenging Proposition 206 in Arizona also made a “Separate Amendment Rule” argument; see here;

It’s title–“labor standards”–did not give adequate notice of its purpose in violation of the Constitution’s requirement that the subject of the bill “shall be expressed in the title;” and

It does not include all of the language of the laws it is amending in violation of the Constitution’s requirement that an “act revised or the section amended shall be set forth at full length” in the proposed revision or amendment.

Other lawsuits challenging PSL laws are pending in Arizona, Oregon, Pittsburgh and Minneapolis. Most recently, an Alabama federal court dismissed a challenge to a state law prohibiting political subdivisions from enacting wage and employee benefit ordinances, including paid sick leave, not required by federal or state law.  See my post about that decision here.

Arizona and Washington Pass PSL by Wide Margins

A few weeks ago, I surmised that any time voters are asked whether they would like more paid time off from work, they would say yes. On Tuesday, voters in Arizona and Washington did just that, by approving by a wide margin measures that would both raise the minimum wage and require employers to provide paid sickarizona-state-seal-color
wa-sealleave. In both states, nearly 60% of the voters approved the proposition. To see the official tally for Arizona Proposition 206, click here and for Washington
Initiative 1433 click here.

The Arizona law is effective July 1, 2017; the Washington law is effective January 1, 2018.

Now, seven states, the District of Columbia, two counties and dozens of municipalities have enacted PSL laws. The PSL patchwork grows and, undoubtedly, will continue to do so.