The court battle over whether Alabama localities can establish their own minimum wages came to an end last month when the lawsuit in favor of a Birmingham wage hike was dismissed.
In 2015, the Birmingham City Council voted to approve gradually increasing the city’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. However, the Alabama Legislature then passed House Bill 174, which prevents cities and counties from enacting minimum wages that are different than the statewide rate. Alabama does not have its own minimum wage, but uses the federal rate of $7.25.
Although the Birmingham City Council moved quickly on the city’s wage increase, HB 174 invalidated it. A lawsuit was then filed, alleging that HB 174 was in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 because of its transfer of control from Birmingham lawmakers to the state Legislature. However, this lawsuit was dismissed on Feb. 1 by U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor, who ruled that the state law is not discriminatory because of its uniformity throughout Alabama.
However, a new effort to raise the state minimum wage has surfaced. Rep. Juandalynn Givan prefiled House Bill 26, which would set a state base wage for hourly and tipped employees and tie increases to the Consumer Price Index, starting Jan. 1, 2020. HB 26 is currently pending committee action.