In Texas, cities are attempting to enact legislation that mandates paid time off/sick leave. In February, the City of Austin passed a paid-time-off ordinance. It does not go into effect until October. In the meantime lawsuits have been filed to stop the ordinance and there are efforts in the Texas legislature to prevent such ordinances. Today, I read in the Dallas Morning News that the City of DeSoto has become the first North Texas city to enact paid family leave. The point is the trend towards this type of legislation is on the upswing. Depending on your views, more progressive or liberal towns, cities, and counties are pushing this type of ordinance. Conservative groups or legislatures will then attack the ordinance.
Texas is in its infancy when it comes to these matters. Several years ago, the City of Minneapolis enacted its own Family Medical Leave Act. It sounds a lot like the FMLA:
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible employees with the right to request up to 12 weeks in any 12 months for the birth of a child or placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, for an employee’s own serious health condition and when a family member is called up to or on active military service. The FMLA also provides 26 weeks of unpaid leave in a single 12-month period for an employee caring for a family member recovering from an illness or injury suffered while on active military duty. The City will provide these leave benefits to employees who have worked 1250 hours during a 12 month period immediately preceding the requested leave.
The kicker is the City of Minneapolis (with some limited appeal rights) can award damages against companies that fail to comply with the ordinance. The EEOC does not have that type of power. When considering an FMLA violation, the EEOC cannot award damages. Generally there will be a right to sue letter from the EEOC followed by a lawsuit. The Minneapolis ordinance has real teeth. Employers need to consider not only state and federal employment laws but also those at the local level. We’ll continue to monitor the Texas situation as it develops.