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Birmingham Fighting Alabama Over Minimum Wage

Across Alabama, the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.  The Alabama minimum wage is the same as the federal minimum wage.  However, for one day in Birmingham, that wasn’t the case.  For one day in 2016 the city of Birmingham passed and put into effect a law that raised the minimum wage in the city to $10.10.

The minimum wage increase only lasted a day because the State of Alabama passed and put into effect a law that took away cities’ ability to pass minimum wage laws.  One day after the minimum wage had been $10.10, it was back to $7.25 per hour.  Upset by the State’s law, some of those affected by the Anti-Minimum Wage law filed a lawsuit that wound up in the Eleventh Circuit, the federal appeals court that covers cases out of Alabama.

11th Circuit Panel Had Allowed Case to Proceed

The first time around, the Eleventh Circuit ruled for workers opposing the Anti-Minimum Wage law.  In July of 2018 a three judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a portion of the lawsuit against the State of Alabama could proceed.

While three judges kicked out part of the lawsuit, they let the claims related to discrimination go forward.  That part of the lawsuit that alleged the Anti-Minimum Wage law had a discriminatory purpose and a discriminatory impact could proceed towards trial.  Two of the plaintiffs’ other claims were rejected, so the case had already been whittled down to a narrow one based on race.

Case In Doubt

The workers’ claims were already in jeopardy after the Eleventh Circuit narrowed the claims they could bring to trial.  However, the initial decision of the Eleventh Circuit was seen as a victory for those seeking a higher minimum wage.  That victory is now in doubt.

The workers’ case is in doubt because the Eleventh Circuit has decided to hold an en banc hearing.  An en banc hearing is essentially a “do-over” involving all the judges of the Eleventh Circuit rather than the smaller three-judge panel.

Because of the rehearing, the case is back where it was months ago.  Waiting on the outcome of an appeal to learn which parts of the case – if any – can move towards a trial.

Where to Learn More

  1. Read more in an opinion piece about the battle over Birmingham’s minimum wage and the related fight in other cities;
  2. What’s the living wage in your area?  Check out this living wage calculator from MIT;
  3. Check out the Eleventh Circuit’s order for en banc review; and
  4. Contact the lawyers at Browne House Law about your employment issue or appeal.