Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is warning the San Antonio City Council that any move to require private businesses to offer paid sick leave, whether it is by City Council vote or by a Charter Amendment election in November, would be illegal, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
In a letter to Mayor Nirenberg and the City Council, the Attorney General concedes that the City, under the City Charter, is obligated to place the issue on the ballot if the signatures that were presented by labor unions and civil rights groups in May turn out to be adequate.
But Paxton then warns that regardless of what the vote is, it will be meaningless.
“We write to inform you that no matter the Council’s decision or the result of any ballot initiative, Texas law preempts a municipal paid sick leave ordinance,” the letter from the attorney general’s office explains. Because the proposed ordinance would increase wages for the workweek beyond those permitted by the Texas Minimum Wage Act, the state law preempts such a measure.
Paxton's argument is that since the proposal would require employers to pay workers for time not worked, it has the effect of violating state statute forbidding communities from setting their own minimum wage for private companies. If a private company, for example, is required by City law to pay a worker for 40 hours in a week, even though the employee only worked for 32 hours due to taking a day's paid sick leave, that has the result of the city mandating a higher minimum wage, because the pay per hours worked would increase.
“We ask that the City Council reject the proposed ordinance because state law preempts it,” the letter from the attorney general’s office concludes. Paxton has already intervened in a lawsuit against the City of Austin, which passed a similar minimum wage measure in February, asking the courts to overturn it, citing several precedents.
Cities and counties are allowed to set minimum wages for their own staffs, just as any private company would be able to do.
READ Attorney General Paxton's letter to Mayor Nirenberg: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/files/epress/OAG_Letter_to_San_Antonio_City_Council.pdf?cachebuster:36