The Trentonian

Business Group Files Lawsuit Over Trenton's Paid Sick Time Law

The Trentonian — Monday, March 2, 2015

By Isaac Avilucea

TRENTON — An alliance of New Jersey business associations filed a lawsuit in state court Monday against the city of Trenton, saying a new city law set to take effect this week that will require city business owners to provide workers with paid sick leave is unconstitutional and contrary to state law.

The six business groups — all of whom have Trenton-based offices - hope to convince a state judge to issue an injunction blocking the ordinance from taking effect this week.

Supporters of the new law called the eight-count lawsuit, which contends that the ordinance emboldens the city to crack down and enforce it on business owners outside of city limits but who may employees who work in Trenton, "an attempt to subvert the democratic process."

Christopher Gibson, the attorney for the associations, said in a statement the city had to be challenged after it overstepped its boundaries.

"Trenton's mandatory paid sick leave ordinance is vague, ambiguous, and contrary to New Jersey law and impossible to interpret, administer or implement," he said. "For these reasons the ordinance must be struck down."

The ordinance, approved by city voters in November and is set to take effect Wednesday, made Trenton one of eight cities with sick time ordinances, including Jersey City, Newark, Passaic, East Orange, Paterson, Irvington and Montclair.

Groups that have joined the lawsuit in Mercer County Superior Court include New Jersey Business and Industry Association, New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce, New Jersey Food Council, New Jersey Restaurant Association, New Jersey Retail Merchants Association and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

"It's no surprise that the same business lobbyists who have resisted earned sick time policies from town halls to the Statehouse would try to block the will of Trenton voters with a frivolous lawsuit. Trenton voters have spoken, and we are confident that the will of the people will prevail," said Analilia Mejia, executive director of NJ Working Families Alliance.

Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of NJ Citizen Action and spokesperson for the NJ Time to Care Coalition, said in a news release the lawsuit is "totally outrageous that the business lobby would argue that a statewide earned sick time law should take precedence while at the same time doggedly resisting passage of that very statewide bill. Trenton voters overwhelmingly approved the city's earned sick time ordinance, and the enforcement of that ordinance is well within the city's police powers."

According to the lawsuit, workers earn one hour of sick pay for every 30 hours worked. Employers with 10 or more employees are required to provide up to five annual sick days, the lawsuit said, while those with fewer than 10 employees can earn up to three sick days a year.

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