The Dallas, Texas City Council has enacted a sick leave ordinance that would require employers to provide eligible employees with paid leave for certain medical and safety-related needs. It remains to be seen, however, whether the ordinance will ultimately take effect.

As we have previously reported, in late 2018, a Texas appellate court ruled that a similar paid sick leave ordinance enacted in Austin violated the Texas Minimum Wage Act and the Texas Constitution and was therefore unenforceable (the decision is now on appeal to the Texas Supreme Court). Given this fact, a legal challenge to the Dallas ordinance—which is modeled on the Austin ordinance—seems quite likely. In addition, lawmakers in the Texas state senate advanced a bill on April 11, 2019 that, if ultimately enacted, would prohibit local jurisdictions from passing laws regulating employment leave for private employers.

Should the Dallas ordinance take effect on schedule, beginning August 1, 2019, employers with more than five employees would be required to provide employees who perform at least 80 hours of work within the City of Dallas with one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked in the City, up to 64 hours per year for “medium or large employers” (defined as having more than 15 employees). Employers with 15 or fewer employees would be required to provide up to 48 hours of paid sick leave per year, and employers with five or fewer employees would be exempted from coverage under the law until August 1, 2021.

Eligible employees would accrue and be able to use leave in one hour increments, unless an employer’s written policy provides for a shorter increment. Employees would be permitted to carry over accrued, unused leave into the following year for immediate use (up to the maximum caps described above), though employers could avoid the carryover requirement by “front loading” the maximum annual leave amount at the beginning of each year. Employers would also be permitted to limit employees’ use of paid sick leave to no more than eight days in a year.

Paid leave under the law would be available for absences due to an employee’s or his or her family member’s physical or mental illness, physical injury, health condition, or need for preventive care. Leave could also be used if an employee or family member is a victim of stalking, domestic abuse, or sexual assault, and time off is needed for related medical reasons, to relocate, to obtain services from a victim services organization, and/or to participate in legal proceedings. Employers would be permitted to request documentation of the need for leave where an employee is absent for more than three consecutive work days.

Given the likelihood of a legal challenge, Dallas employers may wish to take a “wait and see” approach to the law before undertaking significant policy changes in response. However, in light of the relatively short window before the August 1, 2019 initial effective date, employers with more than 15 employees are advised, at a minimum, to closely monitor the status of the ordinance and to allow sufficient time to make any necessary changes to their policies and practices should the law take effect on schedule. The Proskauer team is available to advise on best strategies for compliance, given the uncertainty surrounding the law.

We will, of course, continue to monitor this law and report on any further developments.

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Photo of Allan Bloom Allan Bloom

Allan S. Bloom is a nationally recognized trial lawyer and advisor who represents management in a broad range of employment and labor law matters. As a litigator, Allan has successfully defended a number of the world’s leading companies against claims for unpaid wages…

Allan S. Bloom is a nationally recognized trial lawyer and advisor who represents management in a broad range of employment and labor law matters. As a litigator, Allan has successfully defended a number of the world’s leading companies against claims for unpaid wages, employment discrimination, breach of contract and wrongful discharge, both at the trial and appellate court levels as well as in arbitration. He has secured complete defense verdicts for clients in front of juries, as well as injunctions to protect clients’ confidential information and assets.

As the leader of Proskauer’s Wage and Hour Practice Group, Allan has been a strategic partner to a number of Fortune 500 companies to help them avoid, minimize and manage exposure to wage and hour-related risk. Allan’s views on wage and hour issues have been featured in The New York TimesReutersBloomberg and Fortune, among other leading publications. His class-action defense work for clients has saved hundreds of millions of dollars in potential damages.

Allan is regularly called on to advise boards of directors and senior leadership on highly sensitive matters such as executive transitions, internal investigations and strategic workforce planning. He also has particular expertise in the financial services industry, where he has litigated and arbitrated cases, including at FINRA and its predecessors, for more than 20 years.
A prolific author and speaker, Allan was the Editor of the New York State Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Journal from 2012 to 2017. He has served as an author, editor and contributor to a number of leading treatises in the field of employment law, including ADR in Employment Law (ABA/Bloomberg BNA, Senior Editor), Employment Discrimination Law (ABA/Bloomberg BNA, Final Proof Editor), Cutting Edge Advances in Resolving Workplace Disputes (Cornell University/CPR, Editor), The Employment Law Review (Law Business Research, U.S. Chapter Author), and The Complete Compliance and Ethics Manual (SCCE, Chapter Author).

Allan is a member of the NYSBA’s House of Delegates, sits on the Executive Committee of the NYSBA’s Labor and Employment Law Section, and is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. He has been recognized as a leading practitioner by Chambers since 2011.

Photo of Arielle E. Kobetz Arielle E. Kobetz

Arielle E. Kobetz is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employment Counseling & Training Group. Her practice focuses on providing clients with strategies and counseling related to a variety of workplace-related disputes, including employee terminations…

Arielle E. Kobetz is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employment Counseling & Training Group. Her practice focuses on providing clients with strategies and counseling related to a variety of workplace-related disputes, including employee terminations and discipline, leave and accommodation requests, and general employee relations matters. She also counsels clients on developing, implementing and enforcing personnel policies and procedures and reviewing and revising employee handbooks under federal, state and local law.

Prior to joining Proskauer, Arielle served as a law clerk at the New York City Human Resources Administration, Employment Law Unit, where she worked on a variety of employment discrimination and internal employee disciplinary issues.

Photo of Laura Fant Laura Fant

Laura Fant is a special employment law counsel in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-administrative leader of the Counseling, Training & Pay Equity Practice Group. Her practice is dedicated to providing clients with practical solutions to common (and uncommon) employment concerns…

Laura Fant is a special employment law counsel in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-administrative leader of the Counseling, Training & Pay Equity Practice Group. Her practice is dedicated to providing clients with practical solutions to common (and uncommon) employment concerns, with a focus on legal compliance, risk management and mitigation strategies, and workplace culture considerations.

Laura regularly counsels clients across numerous industries on a wide variety of employment matters involving recruitment and hiring, employee leave and reasonable accommodation issues, performance management, and termination of employment . She also advises on preparing, implementing and enforcing employment and separation agreements, employee handbooks and company policies, as well as provides training on topics including discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Laura is a frequent contributor to Proskauer’s Law and the Workplace blog and The Proskauer Brief podcast.