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Judge Blocks Dallas' Paid Sick Leave Ordinance Days Before Enforcement Was To Begin

crane operator in Dallas
Allison V. Smith
For KERA News
Construction continues on Fort Worth Avenue in Dallas Texas on March 24, 2020, the first day of Dallas County's order to stay home due to the coronavirus.

A Texas judge issued an injunction Monday night against the city of Dallas’ sick leave ordinance, finding that the local measure runs afoul of federal and state law.

Dallas’ ordinance has been in effect since August, though enforcement wasn’t slated to start until Wednesday. The injunction halting implementation, however, comes amid a deadly coronavirus outbreak that has sickened at least 3,000 in the state. Dallas County leads the state in the number of novel coronavirus cases.

Labor groups have argued that requiring paid sick leave would help contain the virus, allowing employees to stay at home when they get sick to avoid passing the illness on to others. But many of the state’s Republicans and conservative business groups have argued that sick leave ordinances — including similar ones on hold in San Antonio and Austin — are an overreach of a city’s regulatory power and that they violate the Texas Minimum Wage Act.

There is no federal law requiring employers to provide paid, job-protected sick leave; 59% of small-business employees have it, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ten states, 20 cities and three counties also mandate it.

Dallas’ ordinance requires one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours an employee works. Workers would be able to accrue up to 64 hours of paid sick leave each year. For employers with fewer than 15 workers, the amount would be capped at 48 hours, or six paid sick days.

“In the midst of a global pandemic, a federal court has just enjoined the Dallas Paid Sick Leave Ordinance. We are outraged by this decision and cannot imagine a time when paid sick leave is more important and more necessary,” the Workers Defense Project tweeted Monday evening.

The Texas Tribune provided this story.

Alex Samuels is a reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune and a journalism senior at The University of Texas at Austin. She came to the Tribune in fall 2016 as a newsletters fellow, writing the daily Brief and contributing to the water, education and health newsletters. Alex previously worked for USA Today College as both a collegiate correspondent and their first-ever breaking news correspondent. She has also worked for the Daily Dot where she covered politics, race, and social issues.