Friday, March 25, 2016

North Carolina Regulates Transgender Bathroom Use and Pre-Empts Local Anti-Discrimination Laws

In a hurriedly-called special session, the North Carolina General Assembly on Wednesday passed House Bill 2 (full text) regulating the use by transgender individuals of bathrooms and changing facilities in public schools and government offices.  The new law also pre-empts local employment and public accommodation anti-discrimination laws. Governor Pat McCrory signed the bill Wednesday night.

The new law requires any multiple occupancy bathroom or changing facility to be designated for and used only by individuals based on the biological sex that is stated on their birth certificate. However special accommodations, such as single occupancy bathrooms, may be made.  The law also declares that
the regulation of discriminatory practices in places of public accommodation is properly an issue of general, statewide concern, such that this Article and other applicable provisions of the General Statutes supersede and preempt any ordinance, regulation, resolution, or policy adopted or imposed by a unit of local government or other political subdivision of the State that regulates or imposes any requirement pertaining to the regulation of discriminatory practices in places of public accommodation.
The law includes a similar declaration regarding local employment discrimination ordinances, but permits local government regulations governing their own employees that are not in conflict with state law.

As previously reported, the hurried passage of the law was designed to prevent a recently enacted Charlotte non-discrimination ordinance from going into effect on April 1. In his signing statement (full text), Gov. McCrory said in part:
The basic expectation of privacy in the most personal of settings, a restroom or locker room, for each gender was violated by government overreach and intrusion by the mayor and city council of Charlotte. This radical breach of trust and security under the false argument of equal access not only impacts the citizens of Charlotte but people who come to Charlotte to work, visit or play. This new government regulation defies common sense and basic community norms by allowing, for example, a man to use a woman's bathroom, shower or locker room.
NBC News reports that many of the state's largest employers are opposed to the new law.