Small business owners sue to stop Houston’s race-based contracting
September 19, 2023
Houston; September 19, 2023: Today, two Texas businesses filed a federal lawsuit challenging the City of Houston’s Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) program that forces locally owned companies doing business with the city to give away a portion of each job to their minority-owned competitors.
Jerry and Theresa Thompson have lived in Houston for over 30 years and own and operate Landscape Consultants of Texas and Metropolitan Landscape Management. The MBE program puts Landscape Consultants and Metropolitan at a severe disadvantage in competing for public contracts, simply because of their owners’ race.
“The government at all levels is supposed to treat every citizen equally, regardless of skin color,” said Erin Wilcox, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “Race-based preferences in public contracting do the exact opposite. They prioritize businesses based on the owners’ race when all that should matter is which company can do the best job at the best price.”
Instead, the city’s MBE program takes dollars and jobs away from Landscape Consultants and Metropolitan employees — many of whom are the same minorities the MBE program is supposed to be helping.
“Hustle-Town” is a popular local name for Houston and refers to the city’s importance as a business and cultural hub. Houston should be proud of its entrepreneurial history. But it is egregiously unfair, un-American, and un-Houstonian when the City of Houston stacks the deck against businesses solely based on skin color.
The case is Landscape Consultants of Texas, Inc., et al. v. City of Houston, et al., filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 17 wins of 19 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.