AG Paxton’s Office Warns San Antonio Against Circumventing Texas Law on Paid Sick Leave 

Ken Paxton

AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office today cautioned San Antonio city leaders about Texas law that preempts municipalities from enacting ordinances requiring employers to provide paid sick leave.

In a letter to San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and members of the city council, the attorney general’s office expressed concern about a petition submitted to the city clerk to place a municipal paid sick leave ordinance on the ballot. Under the city’s charter, the council must vote on whether to enact the ordinance as proposed. If it declines to do so, then the city must place the proposal on the ballot for voters to decide.

“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.

When the Legislature enacted the Minimum Wage Act, it intended to set a single, uniform policy for all of Texas. The policy it set made no mention of requiring employers to provide paid time off from work. The law expressly preempts cities like San Antonio from passing a different law simply because they disagree with the judgment of the state’s elected representatives.

“We ask that the City Council reject the proposed ordinance because state law preempts it,” the letter from the attorney general’s office concludes.

In April, Attorney General Paxton intervened in a lawsuit filed by the National Federation of Independent Business, American Staffing Association, LeadingEdge Personnel, Staff Force, HT Staffing, and Burnett Staffing Specialists against the city of Austin’s unlawful sick leave ordinance, which is scheduled to take effect on October 1.

View the letter to San Antonio’s mayor and city council here: