Attorney General Ken Paxton today intervened in a lawsuit filed by the National Federation of Independent Business, American Staffing Association, LeadingEdge Personnel, Staff Force, HT Staffing, and Burnett Staffing Specialists against the city of Austin’s unlawful sick leave ordinance. Austin is the first Texas city to pass such a law. The ordinance is scheduled to take effect on October 1.
In court papers filed with the Texas state district court in Travis County, Attorney General Paxton explained that the minimum amount of compensation established for workers – including the minimum amount of paid time off – is a decision entrusted by the Texas Constitution solely to the Texas Legislature.
When the Legislature enacted the Texas Minimum Wage Act, it intended to set a single, uniform policy for the entire state. The policy it set made no mention whatsoever of requiring employers to provide paid time off from work. What’s more, the law expressly preempts cities from passing a different law simply because they disagree with the judgment of our state’s elected representatives.
“The Austin City Council’s disdain and blatant disregard for the rule of law is an attempt to unlawfully and inappropriately usurp the authority of the state lawmakers chosen by Texas voters and must be stopped,” Attorney General Paxton said.
Approved by the Austin City Council in February, the sick leave ordinance broadly applies to a variety of employers – including companies, nonprofits, individual households, churches and charitable foundations. It mandates that small businesses with 15 or fewer employees provide workers with up to six days of paid sick leave per year. All other private employers are required to allow up to 64 hours of paid sick leave.