Michigan Blocks Cities from Passing Employment Ordinances

Author: Marta Moakley, XpertHR Legal Editor

July 8, 2015

Effective immediately, municipalities in Michigan are prohibited from regulating the terms and conditions of employment for private employers. The state's Local Government Labor Regulatory Limitation Act specifically declares that regulation of the employment relationship between a private employer and its employees is a state matter and, consequently, outside the express or implied authority of local government bodies. Therefore, any local wage theft, "ban the box" or paid sick leave protections will be preempted under the new state law.

In a statement, Family Values @ Work executive director Ellen Bravo condemned the measure as a "Death Star" for its "sweeping interference in the right of local communities to pass a wide range of worker protections." Although groups that support paid sick leave reforms may condemn this type of preemption legislation, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce supported the legislation so long as it would not affect existing local discrimination protections.

Section 14 of the Act addresses this concern: municipalities are specifically allowed to adopt or enforce an ordinance, policy or resolution prohibiting employment discrimination. However, municipalities may no longer regulate:

  • Information that an employer or potential employer must request, require or exclude on an employment application;
  • Minimum wages that are higher than the state minimum wage;
  • Prevailing wage rates;
  • Work stoppages or strike activities of employers and their employees or the means by which employees may organize;
  • Paid or unpaid leaves;
  • Hours worked or work schedules;
  • Participation in any educational apprenticeship or apprenticeship training program that is not required by state or federal law;
  • Specific fringe benefits or any other benefit for which the employer would incur an expense; and
  • Administrative or judicial remedies for wage, hour or benefit disputes.

The Act applies to any ordinances, local policies and local resolutions adopted after December 31, 2014. However, the Act does not address the validity of any ordinances, policies or resolutions that were adopted prior to January 2015.

Missouri has passed a similar law (House Bill 722) that is awaiting Governor Jay Nixon's signature.