Employer's Duty to Notify If a Plant Closure Would Result In a Loss of Employment of 15 Percent or More of Employees

In Smaller Manufacturers Council v. Council of City of Pittsburgh, 85 Pa. Commw. 533, 485 A.2d 73 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1984), this Court considered an ordinance (Ordinance 21) intended to protect rank and file workers. Under Ordinance 21, an employer was required to notify a specially created Bureau of Business Security whenever a plant closure, relocation or other reduction in operations would result in a loss of employment of 15 percent or more of employees. By imposing this notification requirement, the City hoped to reduce the economic disruption caused by plant closings and relocations in the Pittsburgh area. Notwithstanding the City's laudable objective, the trial court invalidated Ordinance 21 because, inter alia, it violated former Section 302(d) of the Home Rule Law, which, like its counterpart in Section 2962(f) of the present law, prohibited a municipality from "determining the duties, responsibilities or requirements placed upon businesses, occupations and employers." On appeal, this Court affirmed. The Court explained, succinctly, that the trial court correctly concluded that the ordinance flies in the face of the express language of Section 302(d) of the Home Rule and Optional Plans Law. Therefore, if the City wishes to act in this area it must be empowered to do so by the General Assembly. Smaller, 485 A.2d at 77.