HB 2 eliminates N.C. discrimination suits

HB 2 eliminates N.C. discrimination suits
April 07
00:00 2016
Harold Lloyd



House Bill 2 (HB 2), which was passed in a special one-day General Assembly session late last month, made many sweeping changes,  including preventing state workplace discrimination lawsuits in North Carolina.

HB2, which went into effect April 1, has gotten nationwide attention for its effects on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals, but its implications are broader than that.

The law says there’s a state policy against discrimination based on race, religion, color, national origin, age, “biological sex” or handicap, but prevents any civil action in state court based on that. Plaintiffs can still file in federal court, but must first go through an approval process with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that can last up to six months.

“A federal lawsuit can be more difficult and more expensive to file,” said Harold Lloyd, an associate professor at Wake Forest School of Law.

Lloyd said it seemed like the law was designed to reduce the amount of discrimination suits filed and is a major shift in state law.

“It’s going to create changes we cannot fully understand at this point,” he said.

The law also prevents local governments from issuing ordinances that superseded the state on minimum wage, payment of wages, hours of labor, benefits, leave or the well-being of minors. Local governments can still control the wages or benefits of its own owners, but generally cannot place requirements on the contractors it uses.

HB 2 also prevents local ordinances from going beyond state law on discrimination, which means there are now no discrimination protections for LGBT individuals in the state. According to the Associated Press, several local governments had also added veterans as a protected class, which is now invalidated by HB 2.

HB 2 was designed to prevent a Charlotte ordinance protecting LGBT individuals from discrimination and protecting trans-gender individual’s ability to use the restroom of the gender they identify as. The bill says individuals can only use public restrooms that match the gender on their birth certificates, though private businesses and institutions can still create their own discrimination and restroom policies.

Currently there is a federal lawsuit by the N.C. ACLU, Lambda Legal and Equality N.C. against HB 2 on the basis that it discriminates against LGBT individuals. Lloyd said that even if part of the law is struck down, its other pro-visions could still stand.

The law has been condemned by more than 80 corporations, including Google and Apple. Several major cities and the State of New York have banned non-essential travel of its employees to North Carolina. Several film and TV studios are also reconsidering shooting in North Carolina because of HB 2.

Charlotte has already lost the production of “Crushed,” a new Hulu show by Lionsgate, and a$3.6 million Paypal operations center that would’ve created more than 400 jobs.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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