HR Management & Compliance

Alabama Minimum Wage Law Preemption Upheld (For Now)

The dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the Alabama Uniform Minimum Wage Law was upheld today by the full U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Alabama). In 2016, the state legislature enacted the statute to preempt any attempts by local governments to set higher minimum wage rates at the city or county level.

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Souce: Zerbor / Shutterstock

The Alabama law was passed in response to Birmingham’s adoption of its own minimum wage ordinance raising the minimum wage in the city to $10.10 per hour. Several low-wage workers and the NAACP sued the Alabama attorney general to challenge the state preemption law, arguing it was racially discriminatory.

After several years of legal wrangling, the 11th Circuit today decided the lawsuit should be dismissed because the plaintiffs weren’t permitted to sue the attorney general over the preemption law.

The upshot is that the Alabama Uniform Minimum Wage Law remains in effect—preempting any local attempts to raise the minimum wage. The ruling leaves open the possibility, however, that Birmingham low-wage workers could challenge the law again as racially discriminatory by suing their employer for failing to comply with the city’s minimum wage ordinance. We’ll keep you updated.

Al L. Vreeland is an attorney with Lehr Middlebrooks & Vreeland, P.C., in Birmingham and the editor of Alabama Employment Law Letter. He can be reached at avreeland@lehrmiddlebrooks.com.