This case began in 2015 when the Alabama state legislature passed a bill to block the Birmingham City Council’s attempt to raise the minimum wage in Birmingham to $10.10. The wage increase would have made Birmingham the first city in the South to raise its minimum wage.
The legislature’s decision to block the wage increase, enacted the day following its effective date, was met with public protests by local low‑wage workers and supporters of the Birmingham ordinance.
Levy Ratner, along with co-counsel, represented the plaintiffs, who argued that Alabama’s legislation that nullified a raise for 40,000 workers was tainted “with racial animus” and violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Plaintiffs alleged that black wage workers in Birmingham make, on average, $1.41 less per hour than white wage workers, and $2.12 less per hour statewide. Therefore, the Alabama law fell more heavily upon black workers than white. A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit found that the trial judge had erred in dismissing the complaint but the full Court of Appeals concluded that the Plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the law.