Wednesday, April 13, 2016

North Carolina Governor Issues Executive Order Emphasizing LGBT Rights Retained After H.B. 2

As previously reported, last month the North Carolina General Assembly passed, and Gov. Pat McCrory signed, House Bill 2 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 and prohibits civil actions in state courts based on discrimination complaints filed with the federal EEOC. After, in the language of the New York Times, "withering criticism" since the law was enacted, yesterday Gov. McCrory issued (signing statement) Executive Order No. 93 (full text) going as far as possible within the new law to protect LGBT rights.

The Executive Order emphasizes that House Bill 2 did not pre-empt local laws on housing discrimination, and that it allows state and local governments, as well as private businesses and non-profits, to set non-discrimination policies for their own employees. The Order provides that:
North Carolina is committed to administering and implementing all State human resources policies, practices and programs fairly and equitably, without unlawful discrimination, harassment or retaliation on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, political affiliation, genetic information, or disability.
It also calls on state and local governments and colleges to provide single occupancy restroom accommodations for transgender individuals wherever practicable. It provides that when state property is leased by private entities, those private entities may control restroom and locker room policies. It calls for the state Human Relations Commission to submit an annual report to the governor, and calls on the legislature to restore a state cause of action for wrongful discharge based on unlawful employment discrimination.