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Dallas Threatened with Lawsuit Over Mandatory Paid Sick Leave

The City of Dallas may be in court soon defending rules that say private employers must provide paid sick leave benefits to their employees. 

Dallas City Council, following the lead of the Cities of Austin and San Antonio, passed rules that say employers must give their workers one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked or face fines of up to $500 per violation.

When the council made the decision earlier this year to move forward, the Texas Legislature was still considering a bill that would have prevented such ordinances. That effort failed after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick allowed it to be hijacked by social conservative groups. Sources indicated that Patrick and others did not want the legislation to explicitly say local governments could continue to enact nondiscrimination ordinances including protections for LGBT Texans. 

The Texas House and Senate did not agree on this point and the legislation failed to make its way to the governor’s desk for his signature or veto. 

Now a group called the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a “conservative think tank,” has sent a letter to Dallas asking that the ordinance be postponed. 

"Dallas now has the opportunity to show goodwill towards its business community by not forcing businesses to sue their city in order to obtain the same result," wrote Robert Henneke, a lawyer at the TPPF. "Let's do this through agreement rather than by litigation." 

As legislation at the state level was going down in flames, business interests turned to the courts for relief. In fact, before the legislative session even began business groups including the Texas Association of Business sued to block Austin’s paid sick leave ordinance. A state appeals court put Austin’s rules on hold while the case winds its way through the legal process.