THE RIVARD REPORT
JUDGE BLOCKS SAN ANTONIO’S PAID SICK LEAVE ORDINANCE
WRITTEN BY SHARI BIEDIGER
Judge Peter Sakai on Friday granted a temporary injunction to local business groups, blocking the City of San Antonio once again from implementing its paid sick leave ordinance.
Sakai ordered that a trial date be set as soon as possible. In civil cases, that requires all parties in the case to coordinate with the court clerk to choose a date, which could delay the matter for months.
The Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance would have required all employers to provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked starting Dec. 1.
“At the end of the day, we believe working families should be afforded the opportunity to accrue sick and safe leave so they can seek medical help, safety from harm and tend to ill family members,” said City Manager Erik Walsh following the ruling.
A coalition of local business associations and staffing agencies filed a lawsuit in July and fought for the temporary injunction despite a citizen-led commission’s attempts to revise the original ordinance passed in 2018. They argued that paid sick leave is a wage by definition and is thus preempted by the state’s Minimum Wage Law.
“I’m not surprised [by the ruling],” said the plaintiffs’ attorney Ricardo Cedillo. “This is the result that we expected. That doesn’t mean that we’re taking victory laps or anything like that, OK?
“We have a lot of respect for the position of the city council and the citizen’s groups. This decision is a reflection that this is a fight that doesn’t belong in the courts, it doesn’t belong in City Hall. It has to be waged at the state level.”
Defending the law on behalf of the City of San Antonio, attorney Barry Snell argued in favor of the ordinance at the Nov. 7 hearing. He was accompanied at the defendant’s table by Texas Civil Rights Project attorney Ryan Cox, representing MOVE Texas and the Texas Organizing Project (TOP). Both organizations had pushed for the ordinance.
“We respectfully disagree with the Court’s decision to enjoin the ordinance,” City Attorney Andy Segovia said Friday. “We will evaluate our legal options going forward, including appealing this decision to the Fourth Court of Appeals.”
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