Dallas Paid Sick Time Law Blocked

Federal judge rules city does not have power to impose sick pay on employers

dallas city hall
NBC 5 News

A federal judge in Sherman Monday blocked the city Of Dallas paid sick time law.

District Judge Sean D. Jordan granted the motion for a preliminary injunction that will stop enforcement of the law pending further action in the case.

The lawsuit was filed by small business owners ESI/Employee Solutions LP and Hagan Law Group LLC, which are based in Collin County. The Texas attorney general also entered the lawsuit as a plaintiff against the city of Dallas.

“Whether or not paid sick leave requirements should be imposed by government on private employers is an important public policy issue, made even more significant under the challenging circumstances facing our nation at this moment,” Jordan’s ruling said. The judge went on to say it is a decision for the Texas Legislature, not the Dallas City Council.

The law was implemented August 1 after a 10 to 4 vote of the City Council on April 24, 2019.

Mayor Mike Rawlings voted in favor of the new law, but warned that courts had already blocked Austin and San Antonio from enforcing similar measures.

Long before coronavirus was a threat, Dallas County Health Director Dr. Philip Huang, spoke in favor of the new sick time law as a way to help avoid the spread of communicable illness.

"One of the key messages and most important recommendations that we give to prevent the spread of flu is, if you’re sick, stay home. So as local health authority, I believe it is clearly good to make it easier for sick people to stay home when they have the flu," Huang said in April.

The Texas Organizing Project, one of the groups that fought for the law, issued a statement about the ruling Monday.

Deputy Director Briana Brown said one in three Dallas workers lack access to paid sick time.

“Working-class families built Dallas. Our families deserve the ability to take care of ourselves and our loved ones when we are sick or going through a personal crisis,” the statement said.

The Dallas City Council must decide whether to fight the ruling. 

“It’s important to emphasize that it is still something that employers can honor in good faith in these challenging times,” Councilman Adam Bazaldua said in a text message Monday.

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