The Dallas paid sick leave ordinance was enjoined less than two days before the City of Dallas was set to begin full enforcement. U.S. District Judge Sean Jordan enjoined the ordinance on March 30, 2020.
The ordinance, which took effect on August 1, 2019, required employers to provide paid sick leave to employees working at least 80 hours per year in the City of Dallas up to a total of 64 hours per year. The City of Dallas then announced that it would not begin enforcing the ordinance, except for instances of retaliation, until April 1, 2020.
Meanwhile, on July 30, 2019, the Texas Public Policy Foundation on behalf of two Collin County employers filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas seeking to enjoin the ordinance. The plaintiffs alleged that the ordinance was unconstitutional under Texas law and was preempted by the Texas Minimum Wage Act. The plaintiffs also claimed the ordinance violated the freedom of association under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
The plaintiffs, who were joined by the State of Texas, filed a motion for preliminary injunction, asking the court to issue an injunction to halt the enforcement of the ordinance during the pendency of the litigation and until an ultimate ruling on the merits of the plaintiffs’ case was made. In a 63-page opinion, Judge Jordan issued the injunction, concluding that the ordinance was unconstitutional:
Whether or not paid sick leave requirements should be imposed by government on private employers is an important public policy issue, made even more significant under the challenging circumstances faced by our Nation at this moment. The State of Texas, through its constitutional structure and statutory law, has committed that public policy decision to the Texas legislature. The Court’s decision to grant a preliminary injunction upholds the state constitution and statutory provisions preempting and rendering unenforceable the City’s paid sick leave ordinance.
In light of the court’s ruling, employers are no longer required to comply with the ordinance.
The City of Austin was the first Texas city to pass a paid sick leave ordinance. The Third Court of Appeals in Austin, Texas enjoined that ordinance as being unconstitutional in November 2018, and the City of Austin appealed to the Supreme Court of Texas. That case remains pending. The City of San Antonio also enacted a paid sick leave ordinance in 2019, which a Bexar County judge enjoined just prior to its December 1, 2019, effective date. The City of San Antonio appealed to the Fourth Court of Appeals, but that court refused to reverse the lower court’s ruling. Thus, at this time, the paid sick leave ordinances in Austin and San Antonio remain enjoined, such that employers are not currently required to comply with those ordinances either.