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Judge Blocks San Antonio’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

Joey Palacios | Texas Public Radio
Joleen Garcia, an organizer with Texas Organizing Project, holds a rally outside the Bexar County Courthouse after the ordinance was first delayed in July.

A Bexar County judge has temporarily blocked the start of San Antonio’s Sick and Safe Leave ordinance which was set to begin on Dec. 1.

The ruling comes about two weeks after the City of San Antonio and several business groups met before Bexar County District Judge Peter Sakai. Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued the ordnance violates the Texas Minimum Wage Act but the City contended the ordinance offered a benefit, not a wage, under the federal Fair Standards Labor Act.

In a memo to the parties involved, Sakai said he would grant a temporary injunction to keep the ordinance from going into effect. He also ordered a full trial but did not set a date for one to take place.

Plaintiffs had asked the judge to put the ordinance on hold until the Texas Supreme Court was able to rule on an Austin ordinance. However, the high court has not formally taken up the case yet and has asked for briefs from the parties in that lawsuit.

San Antonio’s sick leave ordinance offers one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked to any employee who works in the San Antonio city limits.

This is the second time the ordinance has been delayed. An original start date of Aug. 1 was put on hold in July. The City and plaintiffs agreed to delay it to refine the ordinance with the permission of a judge.

The city — through its Paid Sick Leave Commission — spent the next several months offering revisions to the ordinance, which were accepted by the council in October. 

“The City would like to thank the Paid Sick Leave Commission for their thoughtful work and consideration in crafting this ordinance, which will afford working families 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.

San Antonio City Attorney Andy Segovia said the city would provide appeal options to council members. 

“We respectfully disagree with the Court’s decision to enjoin the ordinance. We will evaluate our legal options going forward, including appealing this decision to the Fourth Court of Appeals,” said City Attorney Andy Segovia.

This story will be updated.

Joey Palacios can be reached at Joey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules.

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules