Pittsburgh's Paid Sick Leave Law Upheld; San Antonio's Law Delayed

Author: Robert S. Teachout, XpertHR Legal Editor

July 22, 2019

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has upheld a Pittsburgh ordinance that requires private sector employers to provide paid sick leave for any workers employed within the city. The court overturned two lower court rulings against the ordinance, holding that the city has the authority to require paid sick leave for private sector workers.

Under the Paid Sick Days Act, employers with 15 or more employees are required to provide up to five paid sick days a year, and employees accrue one hour of sick time for every 35 hours worked. Employers with fewer than 15 workers must provide three unpaid days off. The law carries a fine of up to $100 for each violation.

The Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association and other business organizations had challenged the 2015 law in court based on a Pittsburgh Home Rule Charter provision prohibiting the city from determining "duties, responsibilities or requirements placed upon businesses, occupations and employers."

The law was to have taken effect in early 2016, but enforcement was postponed until the court appeals were resolved. Pittsburgh joins a growing list of municipalities that require employers to provide paid sick leave to employees.

San Antonio Paid Sick Leave Law Delayed

Meanwhile, the implementation of San Antonio's paid sick leave ordinance has been pushed back from August 1 to December 1, after local business groups sued to stop the law from taking effect.

The Earned Paid Sick Time ordinance would require employees who work at least 80 hours per year in San Antonio to be given earned paid sick time off to use for an employee's absence due to:

  • An illness or injury;
  • Medical treatment or preventative care;
  • Domestic or sexual assault; and
  • Care of a family member.

The ordinance's start date was delayed after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton intervened on behalf of the business organizations suing the city over the ordinance. Paxton said San Antonio cannot legally enforce the ordinance.

"San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and other cities cannot be allowed to pass their own laws simply because they dislike state law or disagree with the judgment of the state's elected representatives," Paxton said. "The legislature established the minimum amount of compensation for workers, and the Texas Constitution prohibits local municipalities from ignoring the legislature's decision."