Litigation Update – California and Massachusetts Paid Sick Leave

Several states and local governments have adopted paid sick leave laws throughout the U.S. These laws allow people who predominantly work for employers within their jurisdictions to accrue and use paid sick time for various health concerns for both themselves and their family. Two (2) of these laws are the California Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (California Act) and the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law of 2014 (Massachusetts Law). Both of these laws went into effect in 2015 and are very similar to each other.

Several interstate rail carriers sued the state of Massachusetts in federal court over the application of the Massachusetts Law to them. On June 23, 2017, the First Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA) preempted the part of the Massachusetts Law that required that employees accrue and use paid sick leave for their own illnesses.

During this same period, rail carriers also sued the state of California over the application of the California Act to them. On October 10, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California held that RUIA also preempts a portion of the California Act as well. Similar to Massachusetts case, the California court found that RUIA preempted the provisions of the state law that requires paid leave for an employee’s own illness. Unlike the Massachusetts case, the California court went on to hold that RUIA does not preempt the state law requirements for paid sick leave for time spent caring for a sick family member or due to domestic violence.

Click here to read the full update on California and Massachusetts paid sick leave and railroad workers.