Businesses, coalitions file lawsuit against city for paid sick leave ordinance

Ordinance supposed to go into effect Aug. 1

By Sarah Acosta - Reporter, Jennifer Galvan - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - The city of San Antonio may have hit a road block while on the path to its paid sick leave ordinance.

A handful of businesses are taking the city to court, calling the ordinance unconstitutional. The group is now hoping to stall the measure that is slated to go into effect Aug. 1.

“It's not efficient,” said Ricardo Cedillo, the attorney representing the group against the ordinance. “It makes no common sense."

San Antonio is now the second city in Texas to get sued for forcing private businesses to provide paid sick leave to employees.

A similar ordinance in Austin is now on hold after getting held up in the courts.

San Antonio's measure would apply to all private businesses with five or more employees. It would give employees one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

The more than a dozen businesses and coalitions that filed a lawsuit say the ordinance goes against the Texas Minimum Wage Act.

Cedillo said the Texas Minimum Wage Act and Texas Labor Code inhibit cities from having the power to make laws dealing with labor in general.

“The city has no power. They have no authority,” Cedillo said. “They have not been delegated that authority by the state of Texas to act in these areas.”

Joleen Garcia, with the Texas Organizing Project, the advocacy group that wanted the ordinance in place, criticized the lawsuit in a statement, saying, "shame on them."

She said the spirit of the lawsuit is against the rights of the 354,000 San Antonio workers without paid sick leave who risk losing a paycheck or their job when they have to stay home sick.

“It says a lot about these temp agencies and business associations that they would rather spend tens of thousands of dollars on attorneys denying San Antonio’s working people the basic right than respecting the workers who make their profits profitable,” Garcia said in the statement.

Cedillo said he believes his clients have a very good chance at stalling the ordinance since a Texas appeals court declared Austin's ordinance unconstitutional in 2018. He said ultimately, the Texas Supreme Court will have to rule on the matter.

“They want a uniform approach that will apply statewide. They don't want to have it differing from city to city to city,” Cedillo said.

Ed Guzman, deputy city attorney, sent KSAT the following statement regarding the lawsuit:

“We are reviewing the lawsuit that has been filed regarding the City’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance.  In the meantime we will continue to work with and discuss the ordinance with all stakeholders.” 

The first hearing for the lawsuit will take place July 24, where the group will ask the court to place an injunction on the ordinance before Aug. 1.

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