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In Alabama, Challenging Hidden Racial Discrimination

A federal appeals court has allowed fast-food workers to contest a state law blocking the city of Birmingham from raising its minimum wage.

By Lucas Guttentag (Mr. Guttentag has litigated civil rights cases throughout the United States.)

STANFORD, Calif. — The city of Birmingham, Ala., where some of the civil rights movement’s most consequential struggles took place 50 years ago, is now ground zero in a new 21st-century fight against economic inequality and racial oppression, with implications for communities of color across the country.

In a little-noted but profoundly important ruling, a federal appeals court recently issued a major decision resurrecting an innovative lawsuit brought by Birmingham fast-food workers against the state of Alabama. The suit charged that suburban white state legislators illegally barred a citywide minimum wage increase adopted in 2015. The Birmingham plaintiffs argued that the lawmakers discriminated against residents of the city, which is 74 percent black, with 32 percent of the population living below the federal poverty line.

The actions of Alabama’s white lawmakers should sound familiar: Today, 25 states across the country, predominantly Southern and border states, have similar laws on the books preventing localities from raising the minimum wage.

Taken From: www.nytimes.com/2018/08/20/opinion/politics/minimum-wage-discrimination-alabama.html