Court rules that Pittsburgh’s paid sick leave law can stand
Pittsburgh went 1-1 in cases before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Wednesday with justices ruling the city has authority to require paid sick leave for workers employed in the private sector and striking down an ordinance requiring training for security guards.
Pittsburgh City Council in 2015 approved both ordinances and Mayor Bill Peduto signed them into law, but the city postponed enforcement until courts resolved appeals filed by business owners.
The Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas and Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court previously ruled against the city in both cases.
The Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, which appealed the sick leave ordinance, said further appeal is unlikely, but it would pursue clarification by the state General Assembly on what cities can and cannot do in enacting location ordinances.
Appeals in both cases were based upon a provision in Pittsburgh’s Home Rule Charter that says the city “shall not determine duties, responsibilities or requirements placed upon businesses, occupations and employers.”
“PRLA is disappointed with the 4-3 decision made by the Supreme Court to uphold Pittsburgh’s paid leave law — especially when the Commonwealth Court ruled overwhelmingly that it was not legal,” said Melissa Bova, spokeswoman for the association. “Legislation that provides cookie cutter standards on businesses whether they have 10 employees or 500 is not as simple to implement as some believe. And we hope the City will provide enough time for businesses to change and update their current operations to meet these new requirements.”
Under the ordinance, employers with 15 or more employees must give them up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year. Employers with fewer than 15 employees must provide up to 24 hours of paid sick leave per year.
Pittsburgh officials and Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ, which lobbied for the paid sick leave act, praised the court ruling.
“Guaranteeing paid sick leave is a huge win for those who live and work in Pittsburgh,” Mayor Bill Peduto, who is in Washington, D.C., testifying before Congress, said in a statement. “As I’ve long said, people should not be forced into making the tough decision between staying home sick and missing a day’s pay, or coming in to work and spreading infection.”
Councilman Corey O’Connor of Swisshelm Park, a sponsor of the ordinance, said it would encourage other municipalities in Pennsylvania to enact similar requirements.
“This is not only a historic win for workers in Pittsburgh but for all of Pennsylvania,” he said. “This is not a win for politicians. This is a win for workers fighting for economic justice.”
The mayor expressed disappointment that the court ruled in favor of the Building Owners and Managers Association of Pittsburgh, which appealed the requirement to provide training for security guards.
“I am confident SEIU 32BJ, the security officers union, will work diligently to ensure that officers are prepared to ensure the safety of those working in downtown buildings,” Peduto said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter .