President Obama’s Justice Department has warned North Carolina that its anti-LGBT laws directly contravene civil rights protections.
The state has lost a string of big investment ventures over Governor McCrory’s decision to sign HB2 – which voided all local ordinances protecting LGBT rights, bans transgender people from using their preferred bathroom, and permits businesses to discriminate against LGBT people on the grounds of religious belief.
McCrory continues to insist the changes are “common sense”, despite legal action threatening to cost the state millions, combined with thousands of job losses.
But the federal government filed a warning shot today, finding that the law is in violation of civil rights protections.
A letter from the Justice Department to NC Governor Pat McCrory warned him that he is personally in violation of rights protections, as is the State.
It reads: “This letter is to inform you that the Department of Justice has determined that, as a result of compliance with and implementation of North Carolina House Bill 2 both you and the State of North Carolina are in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“Specifically, the State is engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination against transgender state employees and both you, in your official capacity, and the State are engaging in a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of Title VII rights by transgender employees of public agencies.
“Title VII prohibits an employer from discriminating against an individual on the basis of sex and from otherwise resisting the full enjoyment of Title VII rights.
“The Supreme Court made clear in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins that discrimination on the basis of sex includes differential treatment based on any ‘sex-based consideration’.
“Federal courts and administrative agencies have applied Title VII to discrimination against transgender individuals based on sex, including gender identity.
“Access to sex-segregated restrooms and other workplace facilities consistent with gender identity is a term, condition, or privilege of employment.
“Denying such access to transgender individuals, whose gender identity is different from their gender assigned at birth, while affording it to similarly situated non-transgender employees, violates Title VII.
“HB2, which took effect on March 23, 2016, is faciaily discriminatory against transgender employees on the basis of sex because it treats transgender employees, whose gender identity does net match their ‘biological sex’, as defined by HB2, differently from similarly situated non-transgender employees.
“Under HB2, non-transgender state employees may access restrooms and changing facilities that are consistent with their gender identity in public buildings, while transgender state employees may not.
“HB2 places similar restrictions on access to restrooms and changing facilities for all public agencies in North Carolina, including, for example, all political subdivisions of the State.
“By requiring compliance with HB2, you and the State are therefore resisting the full enjoyment of Title VII rights and discriminating against transgender employees of public agencies by requiring those public agencies to comply with HB2.
“We have concluded that the State is engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against its employees and both you and the State are engaged in a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of Title VII rights by employees of public agencies.
“When the Attorney General of the United States has a reasonable basis to believe that a state or person has engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination in violation of Title VII, she may apply to the appropriate court for an order that will ensure compliance with Title VII.
“Please advise the Department no later than close of business on May 9, 2016 whether you will remedy these violations of Title VII, including by confirming that the State will not comply with or implement HB2, and that it has notified employees of the State and public agencies that, consistent with federal law, they are permitted to access bathrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity.”
McCrory has dismissed the threat, saying: “This is no longer just a North Carolina issue, because this conclusion by the Department of Justice impacts every state
He claimed it is “something we’ve never seen regarding Washington overreach in my lifetime.”
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