Texas AFL-CIO: 'Out of Touch' Appeals Court Decision Strikes Down Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

Levy: "Today's ruling shows how out of touch the 3rdCourt is with what it means to work for a living."

 Need for Rehearing

The Texas AFL-CIO condemned today's 3rd Court of Appeals decision striking down Austin's earned paid sick leave ordinance and called for the court to rehear the case.

Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy said the ruling deprives hundreds of thousands of working people of the choice to stay home when they are ill and especially highlights the importance of working people proactively speaking up together to demand better livelihoods.

"No worker should have to choose between a paycheck and staying home to care for a sick family member or to recover from illness," Levy said. "The people of Austin understood this and acted through their City Council to improve the basic rules of the workplace."

"Today's ruling shows how out of touch the 3rd Court is with what it means to work for a living. Rigging the rules by counting paid sick leave as a 'wage' opens the door for unscrupulous employers to pay less than $7.25 an hour and count any benefit - including paid holidays - as part of the minimum wage. Texans understand that while it may not be Christmas yet, this is a vintage Scrooge-like interpretation of a law that already harms the lowest-wage earners in our state."

"We call on the entire 3rd Court of Appeals to rehear this case after the 1st of the year," Levy said. "This region's voters spoke recently and elected a new lineup of 3rd Court justices who will bring a fresh perspective to cases involving working families. We would very much like to see that set of justices consider these important issues."

"This case also highlights the importance of workers acting together to demand fairness in a way that doesn't depend on empathy from the Legislature or the courts," Levy said. 

"Speak up together for better working conditions. As we have seen in public schools in state after state where teachers walked out for public education and most recently when workers in the retail sector at BookPeople here in Austin organized their union, more and more working people are realizing they can join together to speak up for better lives through a labor union and a fair contract."