June 2021 Texas HR Legal Updates

Texas Passes COVID-19 Liability Shield Legislation

 Update Applicable to:
All employers in Texas.

What happened?
On June 14, 2021, Texas Governor Abbott signed the Pandemic Liability Protection Act into law.

What are the details?
Like the other COVID-19 related liability shield laws being passed, it creates a higher burden of proof from plaintiffs in cases alleging the contraction of COVID-19 in the workplace. Some of these higher burdens include:

The act can be read here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers should continue to conform to local safety requirements to ensure they are protected by this liability shield.

 

March 2021 Texas HR Legal Updates

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.

June 2020 Texas HR Legal Updates

Texas Restricts Sales of Alcohol on Site, Limits Restaurant Capacity, Closes Businesses Temporarily to Combat COVID-19

What happened?
As part of the “Opening of Texas” Executive orders, bars will be closed effective June 26, 2020 only allowing sales for delivery and takeout.

What are the details?
Per Executive Orders GA-26, GA-23, GA-21, and GA-18, collectively all part of the “Opening the State of Texas” process, the State has decided to close bars effective June 26, 2020 for the foreseeable future. They will be allowed to continue with sales for delivery and takeout.

Restaurants will also now be limited to 50% capacity, a reduction from the previous 75% allowed. Rafting and tubing businesses will also be closing.

Further reading and a link to all the involved executive orders can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Bars, rafting, and tubing businesses should keep an eye out for executive orders that may allow them to fully or partially re-open their businesses. Restaurants should begin reducing capacity in their restaurants.

Summary of State Laws (Q1 & Q2 2020)

Dallas Paid Sick Leave
This ordinance that went into effect on August 1, 2019 for employers with more than five employees has been blocked effective March 30, 2020 in a lawsuit contesting its legality.