Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Suit Fights Sick Leave Law

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Suit Fights Sick Leave Law

Article excerpt

Six of New Jersey's largest business groups filed suit Monday to stop Trenton from implementing a local law requiring businesses to give workers paid sick leave, as legislators continue to work on a similar statewide law.

The suit, filed in Superior Court in Mercer County, seeks a restraining order to prevent the ordinance from going into effect Wednesday. It was approved Nov. 4.

The ordinance was one of eight enacted over the past two years in some of the state's largest municipalities, among them Paterson and Passaic, pushed by a coalition of anti-poverty groups, unions and others.

The groups sought to create momentum for approval of a statewide law, but the bill, approved by two Assembly committees, is still pending, and has not moved in the Senate.

Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck, the bill's Senate sponsor, said lawmakers are discussing possible amendments, such as whether the statewide law should supersede local laws.

She said the Assembly is taking the lead, and once the bill is approved there, it will move in the Senate, where Senate President Steven Sweeney is "absolutely" committed to passing it when the issues are resolved, she said.

Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt, D-Camden, the Assembly sponsor, said another issue is whether freelance workers or consultants would be eligible to get sick time.

The lawsuit filed by the business groups -- The New Jersey Business and Industry Association, The New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce, New Jersey Food Council, New Jersey Restaurant Association, New Jersey Retail Merchants Association and the state branch of the National Federation of Independent Businesses -- argues that Trenton doesn't have the legal authority to enact a paid sick leave law.

The lawsuit claims that various state laws address the issue of time off for workers -- such as those offering paid leave to care for loved ones, and in cases of temporary disability -- and that those "preempt," or override, a municipal ordinance. …

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