The Alabama state legislature, at the urging of the Alabama Restaurant & Hospitality Association and other business groups, passed a law barring city level minimum wage ordinances. A group of black workers alleged that the law was passed in violation of federal equal protection laws because it impacted the City of Birmingham, which has a majority black electorate. The trial judge rejected the workers’ claims of racial animus in February 2017 and the workers appealed. On August 10, 2017, we filed an amicus together with the Alabama Restaurant & Hospitality Association in support of the state law arguing that the law made sense for purely economic reasons because a patchwork of local minimum wage regulations creates a significant compliance burden for employers with multiple locations throughout the state. In our brief, we pointed out that 22 other states have adopted similar laws for the very same reason.
Oral argument took place on April 13, 2018, in Montgomery, AL. On July 25, 2018, the Eleventh Circuit held that the law adversely affects Birmingham’s black workers and that Plaintiffs may be able to show that the facts support the argument that the legislature passed the law “with a discriminatory purpose.” Defendants petitioned for a rehearing en-banc and, on September 4, 2018, we filed a second amicus brief in the case in support of the State of Alabama request for a hearing en-banc.