The Texas Public Policy Foundation filed a lawsuit against the City of Austin challenging the sick leave ordinance on April 25, 2018. TPPF, through its litigation Center for the American Future, represents a coalition of Austin businesses and business associations, including the Texas Association of Business, the National Federation of Independent Business and the American Staffing Association.
“With its mandatory paid sick leave ordinance, the City of Austin once again violates Texas state law and infringes upon the rights of Austin businesses protected by the Texas Constitution,” said Robert Henneke, general counsel and director of the Center for the American Future at TPPF. “The City’s ordinance is preempted by the Texas Minimum Wage Act. Furthermore, the City lacks evidence to support any legitimate governmental interest that would support imposing this regulatory burden on all business owners.”
The undue strain put on businesses was a thought echoed by the lead plaintiff.
“The Texas Association of Business is proud to be lead plaintiff and to partner with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, NFIB and several staffing agency members in filing this lawsuit against the City of Austin,” said Jeff Moseley, CEO of Texas Association of Business. “Austin and Texas business leaders know how to run their businesses and can do so more productively without over-reaching regulations that stifle the economy and cost jobs.”
The nature of the ordinance could be especially burdensome for small businesses.
“Local measures purporting to regulate employment practices, like Austin’s paid sick leave ordinance, create a patchwork of rules and regulations that are difficult for small businesses to navigate, especially for companies with mobile employees,” said Nation Federation of Independent Business state executive director Will Newton. “These ordinances create extra work and significantly drive up the cost of doing business in Texas.”
Stephen Dwyer, general counsel of the American Staffing Association, concurred, stating, “In enacting the Texas Minimum Wage Act, the Texas legislature specifically sought to relieve Texas employers of the burden of keeping track of and complying with myriad burdensome local laws.”
Other problems include the one-size-fits-all nature of the ordinance and the inability for businesses to offer flexible solutions for sick leave.
The mandate, if it goes into effect, will require businesses with more than 15 employees to provide eight days of paid sick leave and businesses with less than 15 employees to provide 6 days of sick leave.