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Business Groups Sue To Block City Of Austin's Paid Sick Leave Law

Gabriel C. Pérez

An Austin-based conservative think tank has sued the city over its paid sick leave ordinance. The ordinance, which goes into effect Oct. 1, requires all private businesses to provide anywhere from six to eight paid sick days for employees.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation filed the lawsuit in county district court Tuesday. The foundation is representing several plaintiffs, including the Texas Association of Business and the National Federation of Independent Business.

In its lawsuit, TPPF argues the paid sick leave ordinance violates the Texas Constitution and is preempted by state minimum wage law. The foundation asked the court to block the ordinance from going into effect while the case is being heard.

“We need to stop the burden of this ordinance from even going into effect,” Robert Henneke, general counsel for TPPF, said on a conference call Tuesday.

A city spokesperson said the city stood by the ordinance and was prepared to defend it in court.

Ahead of the Austin City Council's February vote to pass the law, roughly 300 people testified – the majority of them in favor of it.  

Council Member Greg Casar, who spearheaded the rules, said mandatory paid sick leave was a "basic workplace standard" and that groups like the TPPF wanted to "keep working people down."

"Working families in Austin aren’t going to let these out of touch groups take away our right to self-determination or our right to a fair workplace," he said in a statement.  

Work Strong Austin, a group of local organizations, called the lawsuit "frivolous."

"Let there be no doubt: today's announcement is cowardly, desperate, and shameful,” it said in a statement. 

Audrey McGlinchy is KUT's housing reporter. She focuses on affordable housing solutions, renters’ rights and the battles over zoning. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @AKMcGlinchy.
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