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Monday, December 9, 2019

Texas policy group: San Antonio should repeal sick leave law before it's struck down by courts

State Court

By Amanda Smith-Teutsch | Dec 2, 2019

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SAN ANTONIO (Legal Newsline) – A local judge in San Antonio has put the brakes on a city law that would have required private businesses provide paid sick leave for employees. 

The law, as proposed by city council, would have required small businesses with up to 15 employees give each worker up to 48 hours paid sick time every year based on a formula tied to the number of hours each person actually worked. 

Revisions then mandated every business had to give up to 56 hours of paid sick time every year. The city council tried to work around state laws by labeling the sick time as a fringe benefit and not an increase to an hourly wages or salary. 

Local businesses said the law created an undue burden for private companies in the city, many of which are small, independently owned or family run. Several business groups sued to stop the ordinance, including the Associated Builders and Subcontractors. 

Judge Peter Sakai issued a temporary injunction against the law on Nov. 22, which means the city can’t enforce it while the case works its way through the court system.

The business groups have the backing of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, which is taking the position that the ordinance, like others spreading across the state, violates the Texas Minimum Wage Act. This law states that local governments must follow the state minimum wage and cannot set their own rates. 

In a statement released on its website, the Texas Public Policy Foundation applauded the judge’s decision. 

“I congratulate the San Antonio business community on their win stopping the unconstitutional San Antonio paid sick leave ordinance from being enforced,” said Robert Henneke, general counsel at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. 

“The state district court was correct to step in to protect business owners and workers from the city taking away their ability to negotiate the benefits that best work for them.”

Henneke wrote city council should repeal the ordinance instead of waiting for state Supreme Court to strike it. A similar law in Austin was previously struck down by the court as violating the Texas Minimum Wage Act. 

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