Lewis v. Governor of Alabama, No. 17-11009 (11th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
In February 2016, the Mayor of Birmingham signed Birmingham Ordinance No. 16-28, which guaranteed plaintiffs and all other wage earners in the city $10.10 per hour. The following day, the Alabama Governor signed the Minimum Wage and Right-to-Work Act into law, which nullified Ordinance No. 16-28, preempted all local labor and employment regulation, and mandated a uniform minimum wage throughout Alabama ($7.25 per hour).
The Eleventh Circuit held that plaintiffs have stated a plausible claim that the Minimum Wage Act had the purpose and effect of depriving Birmingham's black citizens equal economic opportunities on the basis of race, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court affirmed the dismissal of the city from the suit, but reversed the district court's holding that plaintiffs lacked Article III standing to assert their claims against the attorney general and the State. On the merits, the court reversed the dismissal of the intentional discrimination claim, holding that a sensitive but thorough examination of plaintiffs' detailed allegations showed that plaintiffs have plausibly stated a claim of disparate impact and discriminatory intent. The court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiffs' remaining claims.