Texas Joins Challenge to Austin Sick Time Ordinance

The State of Texas yesterday requested to intervene in the lawsuit brought by a cadre of business interests challenging the validity of the Austin Earned Sick Time Ordinance. While the lawsuit seeks to invalidate the ordinance on both preemption and constitutional grounds, in its plea to intervene, Texas argues only that the Austin ordinance is preempted by the state Minimum Wage Act (MWA).  That law requires Texas employers to pay employees a minimum wage established by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

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The State’s preemption argument is very similar to that made by the plaintiffs in the lawsuit: that the MWA supersedes a wage established by a municipal ordinance, and that the Austin ordinance establishes a wage because it goes beyond the FLSA in two respects: it requires employers to pay wages for hours not worked and that employee pay be based on the hour or day rather than a work week.

Dallas and San Antonio will likely follow this case very closely since petition drives are underway in both cities to have voters consider paid sick time initiatives in November.