Charlotte, North Carolina, is on the verge of passing a nondiscrimination ordinance, joining several other North Carolina cities in enshrining protections for the LGBTQ community and others who face discrimination.
New Employment Discrimination Protections
The city for years has wanted to pass a discrimination ordinance prohibiting businesses from discriminating against customers based on sexual orientation or gender identity. A updated draft of the ordinance added an additional measure — providing new employment discrimination protections for employees, too.
Federal law already covers most forms of employment discrimination, including unfair treatment on the basis of gender, age, race and religion. A Supreme Court ruling last year extended protections to gay, lesbian and transgender workers. And Charlotte’s proposed new law wouldn’t allow people to sue to enforce their rights, instead channeling them into an administrative process run by the city — and that’s if its provisions are legal, which even the city’s attorney says is questionable.
Encouraging Protections for Workers and Job Applicants of Small Companies
Van Kampen said workers and job applicants of small companies need better protections, and the City Council’s action has potential to be a “momentous ordinance for workers.” The proposed ordinance will strengthen discrimination protections for small companies with less than 15 workers.
He’s encouraged that the city wants to help those workers, although having them go through an administrative process “sounds like more of a half-measure,” he says. “But it’s still a step in the right direction — maybe more on the symbolic side.”
He added: “In general, having to go through administrative hoops to get to the courthouse, it just buys employers time. What I’m concerned about is if only the city is empowered to act on a complaint in court, you’re leaving on the sidelines some really, really talented plaintiff-side employment lawyers who can take these cases.”
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North Carolina Cities & Counties Pass Nondiscrimination Ordinances
Other cities and counties in North Carolina have been passing nondiscrimination ordinances this year, following the expiration of a provision in state law that banned local governments from weighing in — part of the resolution to the HB2 “bathroom bill.” Ordinances have been adopted in Asheville, Buncombe County, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, Greensboro, Hillsborough and Orange County.
Charlotte’s ordinance would take effect Jan. 1, 2022.