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The Mechanical Contractors Association of Memphis filed suit against Shelby County government over its minority and women business enterprise program, claiming that one of its member companies lost out on a bid to a minority-owned contractor because of discriminatory, unconstitutional practices.
The lawsuit asks that the county be prohibited from implementing the program and that the individual plaintiff be awarded $500,000 or more in damages.
"Specific to this lawsuit, the MWBE Program uses race-based preferences in awarding government construction contracts and establishes an un-level playing field for nonMWBE contractors," the lawsuit reads, referring to the county's minority and woman-owned business program.
The trade group was joined by White Plumbing & Mechanical Contractors Inc. and Morgan & Thornburg Inc. in the suit.
The ordinance launching the minority and woman-owned business program was passed after a disparity study conducted in 2016 showed that about 88.3 percent of all prime contracts from the county went to white males, whereas only 5.8 percent went to African-American owned businesses and 5.1 percent to Caucasian woman-owned businesses.