A federal appeals court cleared the way Wednesday for minimum wage workers in Birmingham to continue to fight for higher pay.
In a closely watched national debate over pre-emption, the court acknowledged race may have been a factor in the Alabama legislature’s decision to reverse Birmingham’s uniform minimum wage increase.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals says the legislature may have violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment when it overturned Birmingham’s minimum wage increase.
Birmingham is majority black, and so is the city council. The legislature reversed the minimum wage increase without support from any black lawmakers.
Plaintiffs say black employees in Birmingham earn up to 27 percent less than white workers in hourly jobs.
Alabama uses the federal minimum wage of $7.25. Birmingham wants to increase it to $10.10
Workers filed suit in federal district court and it was dismissed. The action this week comes as a result of their appeal.
A district court will now decide what’s next.