Penalties associated with a City of Dallas sick leave ordinance that was rolled out last August were scheduled to become effective on April 1, 2020. The penalties have been the subject of much discussion since the striking down of a similar Austin ordinance and the subsequent filing of a federal lawsuit seeking to prohibit enforcement of the Dallas ordinance. U.S. District Judge Sean Jordan put an end to the suspense by issuing an injunction on March 30, 2020, which struck down the ordinance as unenforceable and prohibited the City from issuing penalties.
The ordinance would have required Dallas employers to provide paid sick leave for most employees. In particular, the ordinance mandated the payment of one hour of sick leave for every thirty hours worked by employees who were employed for at least eighty hours in a year. Small businesses of five or fewer employees were not required to comply until August 2021, and businesses with fifteen or fewer employees could cap paid sick leave at forty-eight hours a year. Independent contractors and government employees were excluded.
The decision was not unexpected given the decision of the Austin Court of Appeals concerning the City of Austin’s sick leave ordinance. Judge Jordan largely agreed with the analysis of the Austin court, determining among other things that the ordinance violated Texas’ minimum wage laws.
The issue now goes back to the Dallas City Council to decide whether to appeal the ruling or to prepare a revised ordinance. In the era of COVID-19, it will be interesting to see what the Council does next. If you have any questions about this ruling or any other employment matter, please feel free to contact our employment law department for assistance.
Tahlia Clement’s primary practice areas are marketing, advertising and promotions law, health law, internet law, and general business transactions. Tahlia graduated from SMU Dedman School of Law and holds a B.A. in journalism and mass communications from Arizona State University.