Milwaukee Sick Leave Ordinance May Be Headed to State Supreme Court

Posted on Categories Health Care, Labor & Employment Law, Milwaukee

Milwaukee Hat tip to CCH Technical Answer group for an update on the status of the Milwaukee Sick Pay Ordinance that was passed by referendum in November 2008, only to be invalidated by a state trial court judge.  According to the posting, the Milwaukee paid sick leave case has now been referred to the state supreme court:

On February 18, 2010, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to take up the constitutionality of Milwaukee’s paid sick leave mandate.

In June 2009, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Cooper ruled that the city’s paid sick leave ordinance, which provided up to nine paid sick days per year based on the number of hours worked and the size of the business, was “invalidly enacted and unconstitutional.” (Metropolitan Milwaukee Assoc. of Comm. v. City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County Circuit Court, No. 08cv018220, June 12, 2009). 9to5, the National Association of Working Women, appealed Cooper’s ruling. The supreme court has been asked to decide whether the ballot question put before the voters of the City of Milwaukee complied with the statutory requirement that it contain “a concise statement of [the ordinance’s] nature” — whether voters were informed of the contents of the ordinance . . . .

Nearly 70 percent of . . . voters approved the referendum for paid sick leave in the November 2008 election.

Marcia McCormick (St. Louis) has written before on the ordinance. I personally think the law was properly enacted and constitutional.  It will be interesting to see whether the Wisconsin Supreme Court takes the case.

2 thoughts on “Milwaukee Sick Leave Ordinance May Be Headed to State Supreme Court”

  1. An interesting back story is the potential relationship between this case and McConkey v. Van Hollen which presents the question of whether the enactment of Article 13,sec. 13 (the marriage amendment) violated what is known as the single subkject rule for constitutional amendments.

    The standard is not the same here. In McConkey (where the text of the amendment was on the ballot), the issue was whether the voters were presented with a “single amendment.”

    Here the question is whether the ballot question (which did not reproduce the text of the amendment) provided a complete and concise summary of the ordinance. (There are also challenges related to the police power and preemption but, even though the trial court bought the police power argument, these seem weak to me).

    But in both cases, the court is going to have to address the way in which components of a proposed law relate to the whole. What happens in McConkey could have implications here. The fact that McConkey is before the Cout could affect the justices’ decision on certification.

    I think the trial judge was clearly correct in McConkey (by way of disclosure, I filed an amicus brief in support of the state’s position), but this is a closer case. Explaining why probably merits its own post.

  2. I just want to point out an important case that makes a bridge between McConkey and MMACState ex rel. Thomson v. Zimmerman, 264 Wis. 644, 60 N.W.2d 416 (1953). Thomson involved a challenge to a constitutional amendment both under the theory that it was actually multiple amendments packaged as one (McConkey‘s issue) and the ballot question did not accurately describe what was really being voted on (MMAC‘s issue). It’s an interesting read, to see how those two ideas interrelate.

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