Update (5/5/16): House Speaker Tim Moore says North Carolina won’t meet the Obama administration deadline to commit to stopping the enforcement of HB2. More information and video of his comments below.
The federal government put Gov. McCrory on notice Wednesday, May 4, that they consider HB2 to be in violation of the U.S. Civil Rights Act, giving state officials until Monday to confirm that they “will not comply with or implement” the bill.
In the letter, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta states that HB2 violates Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination in education based on sex, and Title IV, which deals with employment discrimination.
$861 million in federal funding is at stake. If North Carolina decides to go ahead with HB2 it could kick off a federal legal battle.
“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,” the letter reads.
Gov. McCrory responded.
“A claim by the Obama administration charges that one part of House Bill 2, which requires state employees in public government buildings and students in our universities to use a restroom, locker room and shower facility that match their biological sex, is now in violation of federal law,” McCrory said. “The Obama administration has not only staked out its position for North Carolina, but for all states, universities and most employers in the U.S. The right and expectation of privacy in one of the most private areas of our personal lives is now in jeopardy. We will be reviewing to determine the next steps.”
House Speaker Tim Moore called the letter an example of federal overreach and told reporters, ““I guess President Obama is in his final months in office and has decided to take up this ultra-liberal agenda.”
The letter from Gupta went on to say:
“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…
“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 the gender assigned at birth, while affording it to similarly situated non-transgender employees, violates Title VII…
“HB 2…is facially discriminatory against transgender employees on the basis of sex because it treats transgender employees, whose gender identity does not match their biological sex, as defined by HB2, differently from similarly situated non transgender employees…
“Based upon the above, we have concluded that in violation of Title VII, the state is engaged in a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of Title VII rights by employees of public agencies.”
“The letter confirms what we’ve already known – that HB2 is deeply discriminatory, violates federal civil rights law, and needs to be repealed as soon as possible,” Rep. Chris Sgro said. “We’ve already lost $500 million in economic impact and now we are violating federal civil rights law and risking Title IX funding.”
Sgro is the executive director of Equality North Carolina, which is suing over HB2, along with the ACLU and Lambda Legal.
The letter also informed McCrory that the department had sent letters to the NC Department of Public Safety and the University of NC to also let them know that the federal government has determined that they have engaged in violations of Title VII as well as violations of Title IX.
Update: House Speaker Tim Moore told reporters on Thursday, May 5, that North Carolina will let the Obama administration’s deadline to repeal HB2 or stop its enactment come and go without action.
“Right now we’re talking with our attorneys to see what our options are,” Moore said, calling the deadline “unreasonable.”
“We’re going to move at the speed we’re going to move at to see what our options are,” Moore added.
“Obviously there’ll have to be some response – you’ve got the deadline – but I don’t see the legislature, as the legislature, taking any specific response,” Senate Leader Phil Berger said.