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Lawsuit Filed By NAACP, Fast Food Workers

Fast food workers in Alabama, along with the state’s NAACP chapter and Greater Birmingham Ministries, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Thursday alleging Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley illegally blocked a measure that would have raised pay for workers in the city to $10.10 an hour.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Birmingham, argues that HB 174 is tainted “with racial animus.” Plaintiffs listed in the suit also charge the law violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

“Despite working hard for the same restaurant for three years, I’ve only gotten one 25-cent raise,” said Marnika Lewis, 23, in a press release sent to JET. “I can’t afford to feed my son or heat my home on the $270 I’m paid each week, so I have to rely on public assistance just to scrape by.”

Lewis, who is employed at Moe’s Restaurant, makes $7.75 an hour. She is listed as a plaintiff in the case.

Plaintiffs contend that nullification of the wage increase to $10.10, which took place in February, from the federal minimum of $7.25 relied on the 1901 Alabama Constitution, which concentrated power at the state level with the express purpose of denying minority populations local control over matters affecting their own communities.

“Such provisions that grant exclusive authority to the State legislature to override any and all local ordinances are vestiges of race discrimination and HB 174 disproportionately impacts African American residents who live and work in the City of Birmingham,” the suit states.

Attorney Gen. Luther Strange is also named in the suit as an additional defendant.

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