In what appears to be a sneaky (and cowardly) move, House Bill 2 (HB2) was passed and signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory—all within 12 hours. It was a rush job by the majority party, pushing through a law that is sure to create financial, social, legal, and constitutional turmoil for the state. In a masterful feat of distraction, the bill’s supporters virtually shouted that the bill was all about the sanctity of bathroom segregation. In reality, it rewrote state employment law and—if you read between the lines, in the words that were deliberately left out—opened the door for discrimination based on marital status and sexual orientation.
What does HB2 say about North Carolina? If you listen to voices from across our great state and around the country, it says that NC is about hatred and bigotry. It says that we don’t care about the rights of all human beings. It says that we don’t value hardworking employees. It says that government officials can furtively ram new laws through a process that was originally designed for open debate and thoughtful voting.
We Are Not This! (#WeAreNotThis)
HB2 is antithetical to everything we—as plaintiffs’ lawyers, as proud North Carolinians, as citizens of the world—stand for. We are anti-discrimination in all forms, against all members of society. We are for openness in government. We believe in workers’ rights to air grievances and seek solutions to unfair employment practices.
We are not alone in our distain for HB2. Large corporations that place value on anti-discrimination policies have spoken out against the passage of HB2. And when large corporations speak, their words have power—they can choose to move their firms, or limit work with the state of North Carolina. Biogen, the huge biotech firm, has called HB2 “patently unacceptable” and says it will set back North Carolina’s image. American Airlines (which currently has a hub in Charlotte), Google (you know that company, right?), PayPal, Etsy, Duke University, Wells Fargo, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook (all pretty popular) have spoken out against the bill and North Carolina policies. The president and CEO of NC-based software company RedHat call HB2 “a clear step backwards.” The giant furniture market has reported that it has lost hundreds, maybe thousands, of customers who have backed out of the show this April. The NBA has release a statement saying that they strive for inclusion, and that HB2 may have an impact on whether they choose to let Charlotte host the 2017 All-Star Game. New York governor Andrew Cuomo has barred all non-essential state travel to North Carolina because of HB2. If the federal government agrees that HB2 is a discriminatory law, North Carolina could lose more than $3 billion in federal funding for education.
Most of the media attention has focused on the effects of HB2 on the LGBT community, including the blatant slap-in-the-face law forcing transgendered people to use the bathroom of the sex designated on their birth certificate (because we all carry birth certificates with us, right?). Plus, this discriminatory “anti-discrimination” law fails to protect the rights of individuals based on sexual orientation.
But the effects of HB2 extend to all North Carolinians. According to an article on WRAL.com, HB2 “appears to wipe away protections for people against being fired based on ‘race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex or disability.’” That means that fired employees cannot seek solutions in North Carolina—they must go to federal court. Expensive federal court. So, basically, good luck if you’re fired because you are age 50 and the company wants to hire someone younger…or if the company doesn’t like that you’re in a wheelchair…or if they want to give your job to a hot female salesperson…or, really, for any reason at all.
North Carolina has now joined Mississippi as the only two states not to have any employment discrimination protections. HensonFuerst Attorneys believes that this is a move in the wrong direction.
This Is Not Us!
If you feel the same, that North Carolina lawmakers made a mistake in forcing through this outrageous bill, contact your State Representative, a State Senator, and Governor McCrory. Let them know that you live in North Carolina and you don’t support HB2. And if they don’t remove this unfair law, remember that there’s an election coming up later this year—you can make your voice heard through your vote!