As reported by the Charlotte Observer, “The department gave state officials until Monday to address the situation ‘by confirming that the State will not comply with or implement HB 2.’”
“HB 2 is a discriminatory, dangerous piece of legislation and today the Department of Justice confirmed that it violates federal civil rights law,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “We commend the Justice Department for enforcing the rule of law and protecting the rights of North Carolinians. We once again urge Governor McCrory and the state of North Carolina to immediately do the same and fully repeal this harmful bill.”
“The letter confirms what we’ve already known – that HB 2 is deeply discriminatory, violates federal civil rights law, and needs to be repealed as soon as possible,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. “We’ve already lost $500 million in economic impact and now we are violating federal civil rights law and risking Title IX funding. This is a travesty and embarrassment for North Carolina. There is a repeal bill filed in the House, and it should be considered immediately.”
The letter lays out the Department of Justice’s determination that HB 2 puts Governor McCrory and the state government in violation of federal employment law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) should the state comply with its recently enacted law. The letter also states that public schools and universities that comply are in violation of federal education law (Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972). If the state insists on implementing HB 2, it is now on notice that it risks a lawsuit by the Department of Justice. Further, for universities this puts 4.5 billion dollars in federal education funding at risk and endangers other federal funding streams as well. Read more about how this bill puts Title IX funding at risk here.
HB 2 forces transgender students in public schools to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity, which is a clear violation of Title IX’s protections from discrimination on the basis of sex. Both the U.S. Department of Education and a recent Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Case reiterate that Title IX’s protections from discrimination on the basis of sex require schools to provide transgender students access to facilities in accordance with their gender identity.
HB 2 required – and Governor McCrory’s recent Executive Order confirmed – that transgender state and municipal employees would be denied access to restroom and other facilities consistent with their gender identity. Private employers who lease publicly-owned property would also be forced to discriminate in the provision of restrooms. These provisions are in clear conflict with Title VII’s requirement that employees not be subject to discrimination on the basis of their sex, which has been interpreted by the EEOC and multiple federal courts to include discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.
HB 2 also eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities in the future. Further, it revoked the ability to sue under state employment non-discrimination law on the basis of any protected characteristic, including race, religion, national origin, and sex.
Gov. McCrory and state lawmakers are under increasingly intense pressure to repeal HB2. Nearly 200 leading CEOs and business leaders have urged Gov. McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly to repeal the deeply discriminatory law that’s bad for business and bad for North Carolina. Mayors and governors across the country are banning travel to the state, musicians are cancelling concerts, and the New York Times editorial board called North Carolina a “pioneer in bigotry.” The NBA has threatened next year’s All-Star Game in Charlotte, NASCAR has spoken about its opposition publicly, and the NCAA has said it won’t schedule events – including the Final Four – in cities that don’t have fully-inclusive non-discrimination laws. Major film studios and corporations, from PayPal to Deutsche Bank, have stopped investments in the state because of the new law. The United Kingdom’s Foreign Office has even warned its LGBT citizens of the risks of traveling to North Carolina.
HRC and Equality NC continue to call for the full repeal of HB 2, a blatantly discriminatory law targeting transgender people, and denying municipalities supporting LGBT equality from extending non-discrimination protections to all of their residents.