From labor disputes cases to labor and employment publications, for your research, you’ll find solutions on Bloomberg Law®. Protect your clients by developing strategies based on Litigation...
By Chris Marr
An Alabama law that bans cities from enacting minimum wage ordinances is racially discriminatory, advocates will assert today in front of the Eleventh Circuit.
The state law was passed in 2016, days before an ordinance was to take effect in Birmingham, a majority-black city, setting a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour. The Alabama Legislative Black Caucus, the NAACP, and fast-food workers are among those alleging in the lawsuit that the state law was racially motivated.
The law effectively “transfers all control to legislators elected by the statewide majority-white electorate” and takes away the power of local officials in majority-black cities, opponents of the measure argued in a June 2017 brief to the appeals court. They allege the law violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution and the non-discrimination provisions of the federal Voting Rights Act.
The Birmingham effort is part of a larger minimum wage movement among low-wage workers globally, including Fight for $15.
The Alabama case might be the only one of its kind at the moment alleging racial motivations behind a state legislature’s pre-emption of local wage ordinances, Laura Huizar of the National Employment Law Project, said. The group supported the Birmingham effort to raise the minimum wage, and it filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
Although it’s “a difficult case to make,” Huizar told Bloomberg Law on April 12, “the argument that the Birmingham case is making is a powerful one.”
A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama dismissed the case in February 2017, finding what he described as several “fatal flaws” in the allegations. The lawsuit named the wrong defendants, failed to state a claim under the Voting Rights Act, and fell short of proving the law was motivated by intentional racial bias, the trial court said.
Attorneys handling the appeal didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg Law’s request for comment.
The allegations of racial bias aren’t fair or accurate, the attorney general’s office said in 2017, following the trial court’s decision. Other state laws pre-empting local wage ordinances have been upheld as constitutional, and they benefit the economy by providing uniform wage laws statewide, the AG’s office said at the time.
At the NELP’s latest count, 25 states have laws pre-empting local wage ordinances, Huizar said.
The Alabama attorney general’s office is representing the state. Barbara J. Chisholm of Altshuler Berzon LLP in San Francisco is representing the plaintiffs.
The case is Lewis v. Governor of Alabama, 11th Cir., No. 17-11009, oral arguments 4/13/18
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)