Sick time violation earns worker $11,000 settlement

A violation of the city’s new sick and safe time ordinance has for the first time resulted in a settlement for a Minneapolis worker who was improperly denied sick leave.

The city’s Department of Civil Rights reached an $11,000 settlement for the worker about three months after he filed a complaint against his former employer, a local gas station. The settlement was meant to compensate the worker for lost wages.

The city’s sick and safe time ordinance, which took effect in July, requires all Minneapolis employers to offer a minimum amount of time off for workers to care for themselves or their family members. That time off must be paid at all businesses with at least six employees, who earn at least one hour of paid time off for every 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours per year.

According to the city, the worker involved in the settlement had requested sick leave from the gas station where he was employed but was denied time off and then removed from the work schedule, in effect losing his job. The loss of income led to the worker being evicted from his apartment. He now lives with family members.

Mayor Jacob Frey, who voted in favor of the ordinance while serving as the Ward 3 City Council member, praised the action taken by the Department of Civil Rights.

“The quickest way to erode public trust is to fail to enforce a policy that people helped shape and that the City promised to implement,” Frey said. “Our Civil Rights Department is fully committed to enforcing the landmark policies that help boost health and safety for people who live and work in our city. They have my full support in doing so.”

The supervisor who denied the time-off request in this case is no longer with the company, according to the city. The Department of Civil Rights plans to conduct separate in-person training sessions with gas station management and employees and will monitor its future compliance with the ordinance.

While the ordinance was written to include almost all businesses that operate within Minneapolis, the city is currently prohibited from enforcing the ordinance against employers based outside of city limits. That’s the result of a temporary injunction granted last year by the Hennepin County District Court judge overseeing a lawsuit filed against the city by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.