Michigan Court Strikes Down Paid Medical Leave Act and Minimum Wage Laws, Reverts to Prior Versions

On July 19, 2022, in Mothering Justice et al. v. Nessel, et al., a Michigan court ruled that the state’s legislature violated Michigan’s Constitution when it amended two recently adopted ballot initiatives in 2018. The court’s ruling voids Michigan’s current Paid Medical Leave Act (PMLA) and current minimum wage laws and reverts to versions of those laws originally adopted by the legislature, versions which provide expanded paid sick leave and a higher minimum wage.

The original law called the Earned Sick Time Act (ESTA) and the increased minimum wage law were proposed as ballot initiatives and enacted by the legislature on September 5, 2018. Soon after, in December 2018, before the ESTA and new minimum wage law became effective, the legislature significantly amended the adopted initiatives. The ESTA was amended to exempt employers with fewer than 50 employees, reduce the annual leave entitlement hours and remove a section giving employees protection from retaliation. This amended ESTA became the PMLA. We reported on both the ESTA and PMLA in the October 3, 2018, and January 8, 2019, editions of Compliance Corner. The minimum wage law was amended to reduce the increase and eliminate wage increases specific to tipped employees. The amended laws were then signed into law in December 2018 by outgoing governor Rick Snyder and became effective March 29, 2019.

In striking down the amended laws, the Michigan court found the legislature’s single session “adopt and amend” strategy violated the Michigan Constitution by denying the people of Michigan a vote between the ballot initiative version and the legislature’s modified version. Consequently, the court voided the PMLA and existing minimum wage law and ordered the ESTA and higher minimum wage ($12.00/hour) to be immediately reinstated as law. However, the legislature quickly appealed the court’s decision and requested the law reversal be stayed until the appeals court can decide the matter.

At this point, Michigan’s paid sick leave law and minimum wage requirements remain uncertain. Employers in Michigan should monitor the state’s Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity website for updates and work with legal counsel to modify their paid leave policies and compensation practices as necessary.

Mothering Justice v. Nessel »