City of Austin will appeal injunction delaying implementation of paid sick leave policy

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The city of Austin plans to appeal a temporary injunction blocking its paid sick leave policy. According to a spokesperson, the city expects to file the appeal by the end of the day.

The ordinance, which requires private businesses that operate in Austin to provide paid sick leave to their employees, was approved by Austin City Council 9-2 in February and was scheduled to take effect Oct. 1.

Along with a number of business interest groups, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Austin, filed a challenge against the city of Austin in April, requesting that the ordinance be suspended until the question of its legality could be resolved in court.

The TPPF claims the ordinance violates the Texas Minimum Wage Act.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and other conservator legislators lent their support to the lawsuit. Rep. Paul Workman, R-Austin, pledged to fight the paid sick leave ordinance once the Texas Legislature resumes session in January.

An Austin-based state appeals court issued the injunction on Aug. 17, temporarily blocking the ordinance from taking effect while the lawsuit in underway.

“Without this stay, Austin business owners would be forced to incur significant costs implementing the requirements of the ordinance while its legality was in serious doubt,” Robert Henneke, general counsel and litigation director for TPPF’s Center for the American Future, told the Texas Tribune at the time.

The injunction came one day after San Antonio became the second city in Texas—after Austin—to pass a paid sick leave ordinance.

Meanwhile, the Austin Independent Business Alliance announced Thursday the formation of its Better Process Committee, designed to research how other states and cities have handled the “divisive and destructive” issue of paid sick leave and develop a more collaborative and inclusive approach to similar issues in the future.

In a Thursday news release, AIBA said it was prepared to mobilize a task force of local business owners in anticipation of a predictive scheduling ordinance coming before City Council this year.

The ordinance, drafted and spearheaded by District 4 Council Member Greg Casar, applies to private businesses with employees in the city of Austin. Employees are earn one hour of paid sick time for every thirty hours worked, up to a maximum of eight days a year.

If upheld, the ordinance will apply to more than 220,000 Austin-based employees and their employers.

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Emma Freer
Emma Freer began covering Central Austin for Community Impact Newspaper in 2017. Her beat includes the Travis County Commissioners Court and local business news. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School in 2017.
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