The Supreme Court of Texas has ruled that, under some circumstances, an ordinance that governs the work of public employees and specifies benefits may be enforceable as a contract.
Recent case: A group of firefighters, whose work duties were spelled out in a Texas ordinance, sued when they didn’t receive severance payments specified in the law.
The Supreme Court of Texas ruled that, because the firefighters performed the duties required of them by law, they were entitled to payments for services rendered.
Essentially, the justices said the firefighters had a unilateral contract. Unilateral contracts become effective once one side does what is required after the other side makes an offer. The firefighters lived up to their side of the bargain, and the employer did not.
They therefore could sue to collect. (Houston v. Williamson, et al., No. 09-0770, Supreme Court of Texas, 2011)