Business groups and the City of San Antonio were back in Court last Thursday for a hearing regarding an injunction on the City’s Sick and Safe Leave ordinance. The plaintiffs, which include several business groups, claim the ordinance violates the Texas Minimum Wage Act. City officials argue that the ordinance provides a benefit, not a wage, and is therefore in compliance with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The Chamber and business groups are hoping for an injunction to further delay the ordinance until the higher court makes a ruling on the Austin paid sick leave case. Bexar County District Judge Sakai presided over the hearing, and while no ruling was issued on Thursday, he hinted he might do so before Thanksgiving.
The Sick and Safe Leave ordinance allows workers within city limits to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. The baseline hours of sick and safe leave that an employee can accrue in one year is 56 hours. In July, Bexar County District Judge Sol Casseb agreed to delay the implementation of the ordinance. The ordinance is scheduled to go into effect December 1, 2019, unless an injunction is granted. The Paid Sick Leave Commission spent the last few months revising the ordinance with hopes of surviving a court challenge.
Currently, all eyes are on the Supreme Court of Texas and whether they will take up the Austin case. Earlier this year the Texas Third Court of Appeals ruled that Austin’s paid sick leave ordinance violates the state constitution. The Supreme Court has only asked for briefings but not a full hearing on the case. If the Supreme Court were to take up the Austin case, the ruling would likely apply to the City of San Antonio’s Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance and similar ordinances across the state.
The Chamber’s position remains the same – The San Antonio Chamber of Commerce does not oppose sick leave. However, we do oppose municipally mandated employee benefits and pay. The Chamber strongly believes it is the right of private employers to determine the best and most efficient way to operate a successful business, while remaining competitive in attracting and retaining a talented workforce.
For any questions about the Chamber’s position on the ordinance, please contact Vice President of Public Policy, Stephanie Reyes at email@example.com or by phone at 210-229-2162.