Texas Court of Appeals Sides with Employers in Constitutional Challenge of Mandatory Sick Time Ordinance

There are many different types of Dallas wage and hour disputes that can arise between employers and employees. In addition to federal laws, there is a Texas Minimum Wage Act with its own set of rules and regulations. In some instances, a particular city may also have an ordinance that purports to put further requirements in place. For example, one particular Texas city enacted an ordinance earlier this year that aims to require private employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. The legality of this law was recently questioned in an appellate case.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the Texas Court of Appeals for the Third District at Austin was called upon to consider a challenge to the defendant city’s brand new paid-sick-leave ordinance, which the plaintiffs, an association of businesses and others, asserted was unconstitutional. The plaintiffs’ suit, filed in the District Court of Travis County, sought injunctive relief against enforcement of the ordinance. The State of Texas intervened in the lawsuit, also asserting claims against the defendant. The defendant answered that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over the matter because plaintiffs’ claims were not yet ripe and/or the State lack standing to intervene.

The trial court denied the defendant’s jurisdictional challenges, as well as the plaintiffs’ request for a temporary injunction.

The Appeals Court’s Decision

The appellate court reversed and remanded the case to the lower court for issuance of a temporary injunction and other proceedings consistent with the appeals court’s holding that, contrary to the defendant’s argument, the trial court did have jurisdiction over the matter. The court of appeals also found that the defendant’s paid-sick-leave ordinance was in violation of the Texas state constitution and was preempted by the Texas Minimum Wage Act.

Under the ordinance, the plaintiffs would have been required to grant each employee one hour of sick time for every 30 hours that he or she worked, beginning on October 1, 2018, which was to have been the effective date of the law (although the court of appeals granted a temporary stay pending the appeal).

The court began its analysis by declaring that a justiciable controversy existed in the case and that the parties’ claims were ripe for adjudication. The court went on to agree with the State that it had standing to intervene in the case and with the plaintiffs that they would be irreparably harmed if the ordinance went into effect, insomuch as they would incur numerous costs that could not be recovered.

Speak to a Dallas Employment Law Attorney

Staying abreast of the latest developments in the area of employment law can be challenging, especially for those who are not legal professionals. At the law firm of Key Harrington Barnes in Dallas, our knowledgeable and up-to-date wage-and-hour attorneys will be glad to talk with you about a claim your business may be facing. Just call us at 214-615-7925 to schedule a consultation.

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