U.S. District Court judge Sean Jordan has blocked the enforcement of Dallas’s city ordinance guaranteeing paid sick leave to workers across the city.
In a preliminary injunction issued on Monday night, Jordan wrote that the city’s paid sick leave ordinance “runs afoul of both federal and state constitutions, and is therefore unenforceable.” The ordinance, which became effective for “medium or large employers” in 2019, was set to be enforced by city officials starting on April 1, but that won’t happen now due to Jordan’s order.
The order would’ve been huge for Dallas’s hospitality professionals, the majority of whom don’t have any paid time off for recovering from illnesses. According to one study, 81 percent of restaurant workers lack any paid time off. Restaurateurs across the city were split in their opinions when the ordinance passed last year, with many wondering how they’d be able to pay their employees for that sick time.
It seems especially concerning that Jordan would block the paid sick leave ordinance in the middle of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this month, the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed through Congress, requiring that most employers provide some type of paid, “emergency” sick leave for those who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or have to care for a family member that has contracted the virus.
The Texas Organizing Project, an activist group that supported the ordinance, issued a statement condemning Jordan’s ruling. “As a pandemic shatters the health and financial stability of millions across the nation, this court ruling is particularly insidious and a slap in the face to the hundreds of thousands of workers who keep Dallas running,” the group said in a press release. “Working-class families built Dallas. Our families deserve the abilities to take care of ourselves and our loved ones when we are sick or going through a personal crisis.”