Three food truck operators in Middle Tennessee have recently filed a lawsuit against the city of Mt. Juliet, claiming that a food truck ordinance passed in July discriminates against out-of-city food truck operators and violates their constitutional rights to earn a living and equality before the law. The civil rights complaint, filed by the Beacon Center of Tennessee, argues that the ordinance, which imposes a $100-per-day permit fee on non-local food trucks, is unjustified and has nothing to do with health and safety concerns.
The lawsuit represents food trucks Chivanada, Funk Seoul Brother, and Mikey’s Pizza, all of which frequently operate in various Middle Tennessee cities, including Mt. Juliet. According to the complaint, the $100-per-day fee is prohibitively expensive for these out-of-town food trucks, while local food trucks in Mt. Juliet are only required to pay $100 per year in an annual fee.
The Beacon Center asserts that the city’s food truck ordinance unfairly discriminates against non-local operators and is therefore unconstitutional. They argue that food truck operators, including those involved in the lawsuit, played a significant role in supporting the community during times of need, such as after the tornado in 2020 and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite their contributions, they are now facing punitive measures under the discriminatory law.
If successful, the lawsuit aims to end the double standard and ensure that every food truck operator in Tennessee is treated equally under the law. The Beacon Center states that the ordinance violates the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as well as provisions in the Tennessee Constitution that protect against arbitrary and irrational discrimination.
The complaint calls on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee to declare the ordinance unconstitutional and prevent the city of Mt. Juliet from enforcing it any further. By challenging this discriminatory ordinance, the lawsuit seeks to uphold the rights of food truck operators and promote fairness within the local food industry.
What is the basis of the lawsuit?
The lawsuit is based on claims that the food truck ordinance passed by the city of Mt. Juliet discriminates against out-of-city food truck operators and violates their constitutional rights to earn a living and equality before the law.
Why do out-of-city food truck operators have to pay a higher permit fee?
According to the ordinance, any food truck not originating from Mt. Juliet is required to pay a $100-per-day permit fee, while local food trucks are only charged $100 per year. This fee is seen as prohibitively expensive for non-local operators.
What constitutional rights are being violated?
The lawsuit argues that the ordinance violates the operators’ rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees equal protection under the law, as well as similar provisions in the Tennessee Constitution.
What is the desired outcome of the lawsuit?
If successful, the lawsuit aims to end the discriminatory treatment of out-of-city food truck operators and ensure that all food truck operators in Tennessee are treated equally under the law. The lawsuit asks the court to declare the ordinance unconstitutional and prevent further enforcement.