Today, Free Speech For People, Courage Campaign, Equal Justice Society and Western Center on Law and Poverty, filed an amicus brief in support of the City of Los Angeles and its new hotel worker “living wage” ordinance against an Equal Protection Clause challenge from the American Hotel & Lodging Association. The suit also contends that the City’s ordinance violates state and federal equal protection clauses by unfairly targeting a single industry.

Our brief argues that the “Citywide Hotel Worker Minimum Wage Ordinance” (Los Angeles City Ordinance No. 183241), which was passed in October 2014, fulfills rather than violates the purpose of the Equal Protection Clause. Citing historical materials from the legislative history of the Fourteenth Amendment, indicating that “fair, living wages” were a central concern of the Reconstruction Congress, we explain how LA’s hotel living wage ordinance will lift thousands of poor workers, mostly people of color, out of poverty, without drawing any distinction or creating any division based on race. The ordinance aligns squarely with the spirit and letter of the Equal Protection law, which is intended to protect the interest of workers not businesses.

The City of Los Angeles ordinance at issue in this case is separate from the County’s recent vote to increase the minimum wage throughout unincorporated areas of LA County. Free Speech For People will monitor that legislation in case corporate employers file a similar spurious constitutional challenge.

Free Speech For People would like to thank Jonathan Cohen of Rothner, Segall, & Greenstone for his support and counsel.

We filed a similar brief defending Seattle’s citywide living wage law and also contributed a post to Reuter’s explaining our argument.


Download the Amicus Brief [PDF]