[author: Marta Moakley, XpertHR Legal Editor]
Longer-tenured St. Louis firefighters may move out of town and remain on the job, the Missouri Supreme Court has ruled. The court rejected a challenge by the City of St. Louis and the State of Missouri to a 2010 law exempting firefighters from a provision of St. Louis's charter, which mandates that municipal employees live within city limits.
The court's decision constitutes a victory for the fire union, which backed the challenged legislation. Firefighters had sought access to different school districts by relocating to another municipality, given that the St. Louis regional school district could soon become unaccredited.
Residency requirements for municipal workers have long been a contentious and sometimes divisive issue across the country. The NAACP has filed claims in the past related to residency requirements, claiming that such directives can be racially discriminatory. However, local political leaders often argue that workers who live and work within a city have a greater stake in the community as a whole, assisting in advocacy efforts for improvements in education and overall quality of life. From an employee turnover perspective, it is unclear whether residency requirements or residency exemptions would provide a greater boost to employee retention efforts.
Attorneys for the city and state have 15 days to file a motion before the Missouri Supreme Court to reconsider the case. In the meantime, the city and fire union will continue to negotiate other issues through their collective bargaining relationship, including sick leave, pay and pension benefits.
Labor Relations > Public Sector Labor Relations: Missouri
Employee Management > Employee Retention