Thursday, October 21, 2004
C.A. Upholds County Ordinance Requiring Contractors To Pay Workers for Up to Five Days of Jury Duty
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A Los Angeles County ordinance requiring most county contractors to pay workers for the first five days of jury service has been upheld by this district’s Court of Appeal.
Div. Four Tuesday affirmed a ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Marilyn Hoffman, who has since retired, in favor of the county. Justice Daniel Curry, writing for the Court of Appeal, said the ordinance does not violate the state Constitution’s ban on extraterritorial regulation by local governments and is not preempted by state statutes.
Burns International Security Services challenged the ordinance, which was enacted two years ago, after the company was informed that its contract to provide security at county Department of Public Works facilities—which expired in October of last year—would not be renewed unless it agreed to the jury mandate.
Burns said it was prepared to pay employees for jury service if they were working at a county facility, but was informed that under the law , it would have to pay for service by all full-time employees residing in the state of California, or forego the contract.
Burns lost the contract, as well as its bid for a preliminary injunction. Hoffman eventually sustained the county’s demurrer, and the action was dismissed.
Burns argued that by requiring employers to pay for jury service by employees residing outside Los Angeles County, the county was exercising regulatory powers outside its borders, in violation of the California Constitution. But Curry said the county was merely regulating the content of its own contracts.
The justice cited a 1981 Court of Appeal decision upholding a San Francisco ordinance requiring lessees of city land, as well as those providing construction services on that land, to agree not to practice employment discrimination based on race, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, or sexual orientation.
That case, Curry said, establishes that the exercise of the power to contract is separate from the exercise of the power to regulate.
Curry also rejected the argument that the state’s comprehensive legislative schemes governing jury service and mandatory employment leave occupy those entire fields and leave no room for local ordinances.
“Burns does not suggest that [the ordinance] duplicates or contradicts state law,” the justice wrote. “Nor does it point to any express legislative pronouncement indicating that the Legislature intended to occupy the field of either employee leave in general or jury leave in particular.”
The mere fact that there are many laws on a particular subject does not support an inference that the Legislature intended to prohibit local governments from addressing the area, Curry said. He cited decisions upholding local gun control ordinances.
The case is Burns International Security Services Corporation v. County of Los Angeles, 04 S.O.S. 5555.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company