By Kate BostickAssociated PressAn Alabama beauty care company has agreed to pay employees a minimum of $15 per hour to work at its stores, a move that has alarmed some labor rights advocates who say the move is unconstitutional.
The Alabama-based beauty care and service company, which operates stores in Birmingham and Mobile, said in a news release Friday that it was settling the lawsuit that filed in federal court.
The settlement resolves a complaint filed in March 2015 against the company by the Alabama Department of Labor and Industries.
It also resolves a claim by the company that it violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by paying employees less than minimum wage.
The company said in the release that it will pay the employees between $9.80 and $15.20 per hour starting Jan. 1.
The workers are eligible for unemployment benefits.
The state said in its announcement that it also has approved the company’s application to expand its workforce in Birmingham.
The state said the expansion will be implemented beginning this year and will require the company to hire new workers, pay them up to the minimum wage and provide benefits.
A representative for the Alabama AFL-CIO, which represents about 4,700 workers in the state, called the settlement “very significant” for the workers.
The agreement comes amid growing concern about a nationwide shortage of jobs for women and minorities, particularly in retail, and a recent federal report that found that nearly half of women and minority workers have experienced sexual harassment.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said last month that nearly 1 in 5 women and 15 percent of minorities had experienced workplace discrimination.
The Associated Press is not naming the companies because the cases are pending in the courts.