March 24, 2011Client Alert

Court of Appeals Revives Milwaukee Sick Pay Ordinance

District IV of the Court of Appeals, (Madison) has reversed the Milwaukee County Circuit Court’s injunction and dismissal of the City of Milwaukee Sick Pay Ordinance. In a 49 page decision issued on March 24, 2011, the Court of Appeals reached a series of conclusions, including that the Ordinance is constitutional, within the police powers of the City, and is not preempted by existing federal and state laws. Our client, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce  (“MMAC”) has the legal right to ask for reconsideration or to appeal to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.


The Milwaukee Sick Pay Ordinance would require employers in the City of Milwaukee to provide nine paid sick days per year to its full-time employees (five paid sick days for employers with fewer than 10 employees).


The Ordinance was passed by direct legislation by City of Milwaukee voters in November of 2008. The MMAC won an injunction and later dismissal of the Ordinance at the trial court, so the Ordinance (widely criticized by Milwaukee employers and many employees) has not taken effect. In response to the Milwaukee Ordinance, many surrounding communities adopted ordinances to prohibit sick pay mandates at the local level.


In addition to the MMAC’s continuing judicial challenge to the Ordinance, the Wisconsin state legislature is considering a law that would prohibit a local municipality from adopting a paid sick leave measure. The proposed state law would clarify that mandated employment leaves can only be done on a statewide level and thus avoid the creation of “regulatory islands” in the state.

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