ATLANTA (AP) — The state of Alabama is asking a federal appeals court to toss a lawsuit accusing lawmakers of racial discrimination for blocking a minimum-wage increase in majority-black Birmingham.
At issue in arguments scheduled Tuesday before the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is a 2016 law requiring every city in Alabama to have the same minimum wage.
Fast food workers and civil rights groups sued after the state law effectively nullified a city council vote to increase Birmingham’s wage to $10.10 an hour.
The workers accused the Legislature of targeting a mostly African American city in a way that disproportionately harms black workers. State officials countered that the law is race-neutral and similar to laws in nearly two dozen other states.
A panel of 11th Circuit judges sided with the workers and civil rights groups last year , reversing a judge’s decision to dismiss their lawsuit. The court said 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.”