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State Supreme Court upholds L.A. law protecting grocery workers

July 18, 2011 | 11:02 am

A Los Angeles law aimed at protecting grocery workers when large stores change ownership does not usurp state and federal law and may be legally enforced, the California Supreme Court decided 6-1 Monday.

The ordinance is one of many such local laws around the state designed to protect various groups of workers when companies change management. Two lower courts had ruled against the Los Angeles ordinance, passed in 2005 and challenged by grocery store owners.

Court of Appeal Justice Elizabeth A. Grimes, temporarily filling a vacancy on the state high court, dissented, contending the ordinance violated federal labor law. In her 27-page dissent--only 10 fewer pages than the majority holding--Grimes invited the U.S. Supreme Court to enter the case.

"The city's ordinance requires a new grocery employer to step into a morass of litigation –- and to function during the important initial period of its operations with a work force it deems, for entirely legitimate reasons, unsuitable for its planned operations," Grimes wrote.

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--Maura Dolan in San Francisco

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