Dallas Gets Sued Over Paid Sick Leave

The Texas Public Policy Foundation is leading the fight against Dallas' paid sick leave ordinance.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation is leading the fight against Dallas' paid sick leave ordinance.
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The other proverbial shoe finally dropped Tuesday. Two Collin County companies, set to be subject to Dallas' new paid sick leave ordinance because of the amount of time their employees work in Dallas, sued the city with the help of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Dallas' ordinance violates the companies' constitutional rights, according to the foundation, because they are required to allow their employees to use their earned leave at any of the company's locations, regardless of whether that location is in Dallas.

“Today’s lawsuit should not have been necessary. Texas courts have already found municipal ordinances mandating paid sick leave unconstitutional,” Robert Henneke, general counsel and litigation director at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, said in a statement Tuesday.

“The Dallas Ordinance discriminates against Plaintiffs for being at-will employers, and threatens Plaintiffs with unconstitutional warrantless searches. Given the constitutional defects of such mandates, the leadership of San Antonio did the right thing and agreed to pause the implementation of its own paid sick leave ordinance. If only Dallas had the foresight to work with the business community, we wouldn’t be in court today. But the numerous constitutional problems with Dallas’ ordinance demand a remedy — we aim to help provide it.”

Henneke threatened Dallas with a lawsuit a week ago if it refused to delay the ordinance's effective date from Aug. 1 to Dec. 1, as San Antonio decided to do earlier this month. The Texas Public Policy Foundation is also leading fights against essentially identical sick leave ordinances in both San Antonio and Austin.

All three ordinances require employers to credit workers with one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours they work.

Acting Dallas city attorney Chris Caso declined to comment on the lawsuit, but Dallas City Council member Omar Narvaez told the Observer last week that he is confident the law he championed will stand up to Henneke and company's legal challenge.

"I am disappointed that any group would try to deprive working Dallasites of this critical childcare and employment safeguard that also keeps us all healthier by keeping illness out of the workplace. It's not surprising that a reactionary group from outside of Dallas like TPPF would be involved," Narvaez said "Skilled lawyers for the paid sick advocates carefully analyzed the legality of this common sense benefit before efforts began in San Antonio, Dallas and Austin, and I am confident the city of Dallas, its paid sick ordinance and working Dallasites will prevail."

Lee Daugherty, owner of Alexandre's Bar and a major supporter of sick leave, gave the Observer the following statement on behalf of the Democratic Socialists of America's North Texas chapter:

"DSA North Texas commits to fighting, alongside the 300,000 workers and their communities, for paid sick to remain a reality in the city of Dallas. The greed of the TPPF in wanting to keep the working class from taking time to care for themselves and their families is unacceptable," Daugherty said. "We are firm in our resolve that the City of Dallas can be a model for what health justice should look like: a city that puts people and health over profit."

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