Legal Challenge

The New Jersey Business & Industry Association, New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce, New Jersey Food Council, New Jersey Restaurant Association, New Jersey Retail Merchants Association and National Federation of Independent Businesses today filed a complaint to overturn the Trenton ordinance providing for mandatory paid sick leave. The ordinance was approved by Trenton voters in last November’s election.

The complaint was filed in State Superior Court, Mercer County and seeks a ruling that the ordinance is unenforceable and unconstitutional, as well as requesting an injunction preventing the ordinance from going into effect on March 4.

The complaint states that the city of Trenton is acting beyond its statutory powers in requiring employers based there to provide their employees with paid sick time. Further, the complaint argues that the city cannot reach beyond its municipal boundaries to require employers located outside of Trenton to provide paid sick leave for employees who work at least 80 hours a year in the city as the ordinance allows.

“It is clear that the city of Trenton does not have the legal authority to implement this ordinance,” said Christopher Gibson of the law firm Archer & Greiner, the attorney for the associations. “Trenton’s mandatory paid sick leave ordinance is vague, ambiguous, and contrary to New Jersey law and impossible to interpret, administer or implement. For these reasons the ordinance must be struck down.”

According to the complaint, paid sick time is not a matter of local concern relevant only to those who live in Trenton, but is rather a matter of general and statewide significance, particularly since this ordinance clearly impacts employers that have workforces spanning multiple municipalities.

The state of New Jersey has already addressed paid sick leave in three separate ways. It is addressed in the New Jersey Temporary Disability Benefits Act, the New Jersey Family Leave Insurance Law provision of the NJTDBA, and the New Jersey Family Leave Act. As such, the complaint states that the ordinance is preempted because the state has occupied the field of paid sick leave through its current statutes.

Click here for a copy of the complaint.

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