Pittsburgh sued over security guard training ordinance |

Pittsburgh sued over security guard training ordinance

Bob Bauder

Pittsburgh building owners are suing the city, claiming City Council didn’t have the authority to pass an ordinance that mandates training for security guards.

The Building Owners and Managers Association filed suit in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court last week asking a judge to declare the ordinance invalid and stop its enforcement.

The group cites a Pennsylvania law that says home-rule charter municipalities such as Pittsburgh “shall not determine duties, responsibilities or requirements placed upon businesses, occupations and employers.”

The state Supreme Court in 2009 cited the law in upholding a county court ruling that said Pittsburgh could not force businesses to hire employees of cleaning companies who were laid off because the business switched janitorial companies.

A trade group representing Pittsburgh restaurants and hotels said it would make the same argument in challenging a separate Aug. 3 council ordinance requiring businesses to offer employees paid sick leave. Melissa Bova, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association, said the group is seeking business owners to join a lawsuit.

Downtown attorney Greg Evashavik, who represents the building owners group, said the ordinance requiring guard training is illegal. Council unanimously passed it in May.

The ordinance took effect June 15 and gives building owners until Nov. 10 to have experienced security guards trained, according to the lawsuit. New guards must be trained within 60 days of their hire date.

Under the bill, security guards won’t be permitted to work in commercial and retail buildings larger than 100,000 square feet unless they receive training in use of force, terrorism detection and emergency response at a facility certified by the Pittsburgh Fire Bureau. Employers must pay for the training. They could receive a fine of as much as $500 for not complying.

Tim McNulty, spokesman for Mayor Bill Peduto, who supported the legislation, declined to comment.

Councilman Ricky Burgess of North Point Breeze, who sponsored the legislation, said council “passed that legislation because it was the best thing for public safety for security officers to have the best training available.”

Bob Bauder is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312 or [email protected].

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