September 27, 2022

Volume XII, Number 270

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September 26, 2022

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9th Circuit Holds California Paid Sick Leave Does Not Apply to Rail Workers

California’s Healthy Workplace, Healthy Family Act (the Act) requiring most employers to provide paid sick leave for covered employees went into effect in 2015. However, in 2017 and 2021, two separate California federal district courts concluded that the Act was not applicable to rail workers due to preemption by the federal Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA). The RUIA is a federal law that provides the exclusive source of unemployment and sickness benefits to railroad employees.

On July 26, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in National Railroad Passenger Corp, et al. v. Su upheld the district court rulings. The question before the court was whether the RUIA preempted California law as to rail workers. The 9th Circuit stated that the RUIA contains an express preemption provision disallowing railroad employees from having any right to sickness benefits under a sickness law of any State. Given that the Act provides sickness benefits, the Act falls within the express terms of the RUIA preemption.

The 9th Circuit indicated the California Labor Commissioner’s argument that the Act should not be preempted because it offers a different kind of benefit than the RUIA was unpersuasive.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2022National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 220
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About this Author

Of Counsel

Suzana (“Susan”) I. Sinatra is of counsel in the San Diego, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her practice focuses on representing employers in administrative and court litigation of claims for employment discrimination and retaliation, violations of FMLA and other leave laws, wage and hour claims, wrongful termination, and other employment-related matters. 

Susan’s practice also includes providing advice and counsel to clients about offer letters and employment agreements, internal investigations, compliance with...

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