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Attorney Blog, Human Resources

Dallas Paid Sick Leave Law Goes into Effect

Attorney Harrison Oldham

The ordinance took effect August 1, 2019, requiring employers to provide workers with six to eight paid sick days a year, depending on employer size. Businesses in north Texas, however, filed a lawsuit two days before the effective date asking a federal judge to halt the new law.

The law requires employers to provide paid sick leave to any employee who works in the City of Dallas for at least 80 hours in a single year. It does not matter where the business is located or how many employees the company has. Instead, any employee who works 80 hours per year in Dallas is eligible for the benefit.  The size of the employer does matter in one regard – employees accrue 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours of work, up to a cap of 64 hours (or 48 hours if the employer has 15 or fewer employees).

In addition, the new law goes far beyond typical “sickness.” Instead, it includes mental illness, preventative health care, domestic abuse, sexual assault and stalking (including not just the medical care, but also attending court appearances, obtaining services from advocacy groups and/or relocation). It also includes absences related to family members suffering from any of the covered situations.

It is also important to note that, unlike many employment related laws, employers are prohibited from requiring employees to provide proof that any absence is covered by the paid sick leave law, unless the absence continues for three consecutive days or longer. Even then, an employer may not request any sort of verification that would “require an employee to explain the nature” of the situation. Basically, if the employee has some sort of rational explanation for the covered absence, time off, with pay, is most likely required.  Finally, at least once a month, covered employers must provide a statement of the balance of accrued sick leave available to each employee.

However, even though the new law technically went into effect on August 1st, on July 30, 2019, a lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas seeking to enjoin the City of Dallas’s paid sick leave regulation. The lawsuit was filed by the Texas Public Policy Foundation on behalf of two employers and argues that the city’s ordinance violates both the state’s minimum wage act and the U.S. Constitution by alleging that it violates the freedom of association under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. In addition, the plaintiffs argued that the ordinance violates the rights to equal protection for non-unionized employers, and the right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures because of the city’s subpoena power over business records to investigate complaints.

Although the Dallas ordinance has not yet been delayed, it will likely be soon. A state appeals court already ruled against Austin’s law in November 2018, and San Antonio delayed implementation of its own ordinance pending a legal challenge in state court.

Similar ordinances have been delayed in Austin and San Antonio, but the judge has yet to issue an order in the Dallas case.

About Harrison Oldham

Harrison grew up in Mansfield, Texas. He attended Texas A&M University for his bachelor’s degree, where he met his wonderful wife, Kelsey. After graduating magna cum laude from Texas A&M, he attended SMU Dedman School of Law, graduating with honors in 2012. Today, Harrison and his wife live in Dallas, Texas with their son, Teddy.

Since graduating from SMU Law, Harrison has worked exclusively in the field of business law. He has spent time in private practice and in-house, working with clients of every size; from single person startups to Fortune 250 companies. Today his practice focuses on serving the diverse needs of businesses and individuals throughout Texas. You can learn more about Harrison by visiting his website, at: http://lonestarbusinesslaw.com/.

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