July 27, 2018-
A federal appeals court handed workers in Birmingham, Ala., a significant win this week. The city is in a battle against state lawmakers over whether it has the right to raise its minimum wage. The Birmingham workers and the Alabama legislature have been fighting in court since the city voted to increase its minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, from $7.25, in February 2016. That hike never took effect. The state legislature swiftly passed a law barring municipalities like Birmingham from setting their own minimum wage.
The case — filed by a group of fast-food workers, the NAACP and other worker groups — argued that the state’s majority white legislature discriminated against the majority black city. On Wednesday, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, reversing a judge’s earlier decision to dismiss the workers’ suit. In its decision, a three-judge panel ruled the state’s preemption law violated 14th Amendment’s equal protection rights. It called the state’s actions “rushed, reactionary, and racially polarized.”