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How could ruling on paid sick leave ordinance in Austin affect San Antonio's similar ordinance?

SAN ANTONIO – An Austin appellate court has ruled that the city’s paid sick leave ordinance is unconstitutional, pre-empted by the state’s minimum wage act.

The lawsuit was brought against the city of Austin by several small business representatives after the first-of-its-kind ordinance was passed in February.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton praised the court’s decision.  

“The Legislature has established the minimum amount of compensation for workers, and the Texas Constitution prohibits local municipalities from ignoring the Legislature’s decision,” he said in a statement.

In August, San Antonio passed a similar ordinance, which is set to take effect in January. It will require one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, with 64 hours per employee per year for medium or large employers and 48 hours for smaller employers. There would be a $500 civil penalty per violation.

It may be just a matter of time before San Antonio’s ordinance goes before a judge.

St. Mary’s University School of Law professor Wayne Scott said the ruling could be different.   

“This will go up to the San Antonio Court of Appeals. It has different judges thinking different ways. They may read it differently,” Scott said.

Several small business groups and San Antonio area chamber of commerce groups joined in an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit brought by the Texas Public Policy Foundation against the city of Austin.  

The case against Austin will go to a lower court for further proceedings. Scott said it could take a year or more before the case moves forward.


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