Alabama's Local Minimum Wage Ban Still Under Legal Challenge

Date: August 01, 2018


Alabama’s minimum wage lawsuit isn’t over quite yet.

In 2016, Birmingham would have become the first city in the state to establish its own minimum wage, but shortly after the measure passed, the Alabama Legislature passed a law that prevented localities from setting different wages than that of the state. Since Alabama doesn’t have its own minimum wage, it uses the federal standard of $7.25 per hour; Birmingham’s new base wage would have risen to $10.10 per hour.

This series of events set off a lengthy court battle. A lawsuit was filed against the governor, Alabama Attorney General’s Office, and the city of Birmingham, alleging that the state law is racially discriminatory and violates equal protections. Although U.S. District Judge David Proctor dismissed the case in 2017, saying that there were “fatal flaws” in the plaintiffs’ argument, the plaintiffs—which include the Legislative Black Caucus and civil rights groups—appealed the decision. In late July 2018, the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed part of the previous court’s decision, sending the case back to district court. quoted from the court’s written opinion: “The plaintiffs have stated a plausible claim that the Minimum Wage Act had the purpose and effect of depriving Birmingham’s black citizens equal economic opportunities on the basis of race, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Accordingly, we reverse the dismissal of that claim against the Attorney General of Alabama. We affirm the dismissal of all other claims and all other defendants.”

Although the lawsuit may not ultimately prevail in paving the way for Birmingham’s higher minimum wage, for now, the legal challenge will continue.

Related Content: Small Business News | Alabama | Economy

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