The Secret of House Bill 2
By Jennifer Stevens
House Bill 2 (HB2) has been a topic of controversy for weeks in North Carolina. HB2 has been criticized as the “most anti-LGBT bill in the country.” So, what is the big deal about the bill?
First, the bill outraged citizens because it mandated that people use public bathrooms based on the biological sex stated on their birth certificates. Thus, transgender people are now being forced to use restrooms corresponding with the gender they were born, not the gender to which they identify. The only solution for a transgender person is to have the sex listed on their birth certificate to be changed to which they wish to identify. Governor McCory of North Carolina stands behind this bill because he believes that it provides North Carolina citizens new protections. Many people are still asking what “new protections” this bill has brought forward.
Many people are only aware of this LGBT provision of the bill, but there is a much more troubling provision that needs to be brought to everyone’s attention. There is a single sentence in the bill that completely strips the rights of North Carolina workers to pursue a remedy in state court if the worker believed they were fired based on race, gender, religion, or age. The exact language is this, “This Article does not create, and shall not be construed to create or support, a statutory or common law private right of action, and no person may bring any civil action based upon the public policy expressed herein.” As such, any of these claims CANNOT be taken to state court, putting a huge burden on any North Carolina worker. Under federal law, a worker bringing a claim has only 180 days to file a discrimination claim, whereas in state courts, there is a three- year window to file a claim. Also, federal claims are harder to bring and often bring less reward than that of state courts.
This single sentence has taken away a thirty-year practice given by the North Carolina Equal Employment Practices Act. This act applies to businesses with fifteen or more employees and stated that it is against the state’s public policy to discriminate based on “race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex, or handicap.” Traditionally, people who successfully proved discrimination could recover damages under common law.
Whether you agree with the LGBT provision of the bill, it is hard to fathom the rationale behind the discrimination provision. As people are becoming aware of the discrimination provision, protests are slowly coming to light. Recently, Bruce Springsteen cancelled his show in North Carolina because of HB2’s discriminatory provision. Clearly, this is not who North Carolina is, and people need to fight back for the rights of our citizens.