City of Dallas facing lawsuit over paid sick leave ordinance

Beginning Thursday, businesses with employees working in the city of Dallas must start offering them paid sick leave.

Local chambers of commerce already sent a letter to the mayor and city council asking for a delay. Now, two businesses in Collin County are suing the city.

The North Dallas, Dallas Regional and LGBT Chambers of Commerce sent a letter to the city on Monday asking for the ordinance to be delayed. They say it's not practical for businesses and that more time is needed to get a full picture of the impact. Now, even a federal lawsuit doesn't seem to be slowing it down.

Dallas' new sick leave policy goes into effect Thursday. So far, there has been no word of a delay despite demand letters and a federal lawsuit.

Earlier this month, business owners were given more information with the city trying to clear up the confusion.

Starting August 1, any employee who works a total of 80 hours in the city of Dallas in a year will receive paid sick leave. It's one-hour sick time for every 30 hours worked. Businesses with fewer than 15 workers can put a cap on sick hours collected. Businesses in violation could be fined.

Ryan Walters is an attorney for the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

“We don't support government putting its thumb on the scale and deciding what it thinks the priority of benefits to employees should be,” he said.

The group filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of two Collin County businesses with employees working in Dallas.

“Our clients had been put into a position where they had to go to court in order to protect their legal rights,” Walters said.

The group had previously sent a letter asking Dallas to delay the ordinance. The city refused.

Sean Goldhammer with the Workers Defense Project is glad that Dallas has chosen to, for now, move forward with the sick leave Ordinance city council members approved this spring.

“It's an eleventh-hour attempt to do what they weren't able to accomplish politically,” he said. “Most of our members don't currently get paid sick time. And that means when they get sick on the job they have to decide between being able to pay their bills or recovering.”

Governor Greg Abbott backed a bill in the last legislative session that would have banned these kinds of ordinances. It failed.

Austin and San Antonio have passed similar ordinances. But an appeals court said Austin's is unconstitutional, and San Antonio delayed its ordinance from going into effect.