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24 Mar

March 2021 Texas HR Legal Updates

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Texas Court Finds Minimum Wage Law Preempts San Antonio Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

Update Applicable to:
Employers within the City of San Antonio.

What happened?
On March 10, 2021, the Texas Fourth Court of Appeals upheld a preliminary injunction preventing San Antonio’s amended Sick and Safe Leave Benefits ordinance from taking effect since December 2019.

What are the details?
In its decision, the appellate court held that San Antonio’s ordinance violates the Texas Minimum Wage Act. As detailed below, this decision is one in a line of decisions that have prevented these kinds of ordinances from taking effect across Texas over the last several years.

The City of San Antonio was the second city in Texas to enact a paid sick and safe leave benefits ordinance, following Austin’s enactment of such an ordinance two years earlier. San Antonio’s ordinance was scheduled to take effect on August 1, 2019 and would have required covered private employers to provide certain paid sick and safe leave benefits to employees based on hours worked within the city limits. The ordinance never took effect, however, because of litigation stemming from fierce opposition to requiring private employers to provide such benefits.

The Fourth Court of Appeals’ decision regarding San Antonio’s ordinance is consistent with its sister court’s ruling regarding the identical ordinance in Austin. On November 16, 2018, the Third Court of Appeals held Austin’s ordinance was unconstitutional for the same reason, resulting in a preliminary injunction that likewise prevented the Austin law from taking effect. Observing the fate of the Austin ordinance, San Antonio officials amended their ordinance and delayed its effective date to overcome the same constitutional scrutiny that doomed the Austin ordinance. This attempt, so far, has failed.

An article covering more about the ongoing lawsuits can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Texas employers with operations in San Antonio should monitor the situation for any challenges by the local officials.


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