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Advancing the rights of working families.


In November 2008, voters in Milwaukee voted overwhelmingly -- 69% to 31% -- in favor of a paid sick leave initiative. A Better Balance worked with advocates from 9 to 5 to draft the ballot measure and to educate voters.

Directly following the positive vote on paid sick days, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Area Chamber of Commerce (MMAC) brought a lawsuit challenging the law on twelve grounds.  ABB worked with the Milwaukee law firm of Hawks Quindel to defend the law.  On June 15, 2009, a Milwaukee trial court ruled on the legality of the ordinance, finding that the City has the authority to enact the paid sick days law and that the law did not conflict with any state or Federal law, but striking it down because the ballot question did not specify that the law covered time off for domestic violence purposes. On February 18, 2010, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals certified certain questions to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin for review and the high court agreed, on March 16, 2010, to consider all issues raised in the case. On October 14, 2010, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, with one of the justices recusing herself the justices divided equally on whether to affirm or reverse the trial court, and therefore vacated its order granting certification and remanded the case back to the Court of Appeals.

On March 24, 2011, The Wisconsin Court of Appeals upheld the Milwaukee paid sick days law, ruling in our favor on all issues raised by the MMAC, reversing the trial court's decision and vacating the permanent injunction that had prevented the law from going into effect.  ABB helped with briefing and strategy at every step of the way in the litigation. To read the court's decision, click here.

On May 5, 2011, Governor Walker signed into law a bill that seeks to undermine local control statewide and attempts to undo the Milwaukee paid sick days law. 

On July 28, 2011, Judge Thomas Cooper of the Milwaukee Circuit Court ruled that the new Wisconsin state law prohibiting cities from legislating paid sick days prevented him from lifting the injunction on the Milwaukee paid sick days law.  Implementation of the Milwaukee ordinance has been delayed since November 2008, when it was voted into law by an overwhelming majority of the electorate.

Click here to read ABB's legal analysis of the case and Governor Walker's preemption of the law. Also, see Sick Pay Law Should Cover Abuse Victims, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Peter & Jennifer Buffett (June 23, 2009).

For more information, check out 9to5 National Association of Working Women.

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