RALEIGH (April 13, 2016) — Gov. McCrory called on lawmakers yesterday to reverse part of House Bill 2, but unfortunately his Executive Order fails to fix or recommend fixing most of the extremely damaging provisions of this toxic legislation. It is essentially a “do nothing” order.
Because of House Bill 2, local governments still may not adopt ordinances or policies that go beyond state anti-discrimination law to provide protection to LGBTQ individuals or other classes of people, either in public accommodations or private employment, or by businesses that contract with local governments. They also still cannot help protect workers by adopting ordinances or policies regarding wages, benefits, hours, payment of earned wages, benefits, leave, or the well-being of minors in the workforce by their contractors. In short, it takes away the right and duty of these local governments to spend their money in a way that promotes good public policy and benefits its community members.
Not only does the order fail to reverse HB2’s hateful statute requiring public agencies and schools to discriminate against transgender individuals in bathrooms and changing facilities, the anti-discrimination provisions in the NC Equal Employment Practices Act are still weaker than before HB2 was enacted because of the addition of “biological” to the definition of sex discrimination.
Although we welcome the Governor’s desire to reinstate the right to sue for discrimination, private employees can still legally be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity without a remedy in state court, even if Section 3.2 of HB2 is repealed. And while Gov. McCrory’s statement on equal employment opportunity for state employees is similarly a positive step forward, it is unclear that it actually changes any legal protections available to state employees.
The Governor could have avoided this by vetoing House Bill 2 in the first place. Instead of having to issue an order in response to the myriad of criticisms lobbed at the bill over the last several weeks, he could have given voters the chance to voice their questions and concerns in a transparent process instead of moving forward to sign HB2 within hours of its passage.
Unfortunately, whatever value the Governor’s order had was immediately undercut by statements made by legislative leadership affirming the need for HB2. If the Governor is serious about major modifications to the bill, he should publicly press stakeholders and leadership about potential remedies and submit proposed legislation to do just that.
Time will tell whether the Executive Order is a serious call to action. As it currently stands, it does little to correct the multiple harmful impacts of HB2.
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