The battle over paid sick leave continues

In Februrary, the Austin City Council approved an ordinance requiring all employers to provide eight days of paid sick leave to workers. The ordinance was set to go into effect in October for larger employers and October of 2019 for small businesses (fewer than 15 workers). Obviously, business interests aren’t happy.

A big coalition of business groups –– Texas Association of Business, Texas Restaurant Association, Texas Federation of Independent Businesses among others –– have sued, saying that the state’s own wage laws do not allow local governments to put in place mandatory paid sick leave. The state sets the minimum wage and municipalities cannot set higher minimum wages, so therefore cities cannot impose higher benefit thresholds, they argue.

Today, a three-judge state appeals court agreed with the plaintiffs. Matt Zdun reports for the Texas Tribune:

The Austin-based 3rd Court of Appeals declared Austin’s paid sick leave ordinance unconstitutional Friday morning, saying the ordinance is preempted by the state’s minimum wage law.

In a 24-page opinion, a three-judge panel ordered a district court judge who originally heard the case to issue a temporary injunction against the ordinance. The judges also remanded the case back to the district court “for further proceedings consistent with [the appeals court’s] opinion.”

Greg Casar, the lead champion on Council for the paid sick leave ordinance, indicates on Twitter that he’s not too worried.

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We’ll see. Regardless of court rulings, state Republicans will likely seek to pass a bill preempting the paid sick leave ordinance in the next legislative session. I have argued that this is a fight that Democrats should be eager to wage.

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