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Injunction Prevents Implementation Of Milwaukee Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

Labor & Employment Alert David B. Kern

On February 6, 2009, a Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge granted a temporary injunction that prevents implementation and enforcement of the Milwaukee paid sick leave ordinance for the duration of the lawsuit challenging the legality of the ordinance. The ordinance, which would require employers to provide employees in Milwaukee with up to nine days of paid sick leave per year, was otherwise scheduled to take effect on February 10, 2009. In granting the injunction, the judge noted that the paid sick leave ordinance was a matter of extreme public importance but that the economic and administrative burdens associated with implementing the ordinance cut heavily in favor of maintaining the status quo.

As a result of the temporary injunction, Milwaukee employers are under no legal obligation to amend their existing leave policies at this time. The injunction is not permanent, however, and the Circuit Court will further consider the legality of the ordinance during an evidentiary hearing scheduled for May 11, 2009. It is also likely that the Circuit Court's decision will be appealed to the Wisconsin state appellate courts.

Given the uncertainty as to whether the paid sick leave ordinance will ultimately take effect, an employer operating under a transition policy should consider maintaining the policy for the duration of the lawsuit. The policy could preserve an employer's right to count paid time off taken under its own policies as time that also counts against an employee's potential entitlement to paid leave under the ordinance, if implemented. An employer may want to amend its transition policy to acknowledge the temporary injunction and to reaffirm the employer's intention to comply with future court rulings.

If you have any questions regarding the injunction or how it affects your existing leave policy or transition policy, please contact Dave Kern at 414-277-5653 /, Ann Martin at 414-277-3073 /, or your Quarles & Brady Labor and Employment attorney.