Human Resources News & Insights

Feds say state’s ‘Bathroom Bill’ is a civil rights violation

This past week, the EEOC and DOJ strengthened their stance on transgender discrimination in light of North Carolina’s controversial “Bathroom Bill.” 

The DOJ issued a letter to NC Governor Pat McCrory (R), stating that the legislation — also known as HB2 — violates the Civil Rights Act and Title IX, falling under sex discrimination.

The letter came two days after the EEOC published a fact sheet confirming its stance that its a civil rights violation not to allow transgender individuals to use the bathrooms associated with their gender identities.

In the fact sheet, the EEOC took this time to point out that “Contrary state law is not a defense under Title VII.” It clearly shows the agency is serious about protecting individuals on the basis of their age, race, sex (including gender identity) and disability.

Meanwhile, the DOJ’s letter said North Carolina had until May 9th to say it wouldn’t comply with HB2, or else it would risk losing federal funding, including some $861 million for educational use.

HB2 has earned some headline fame since its conception back in March, when it was proposed in response to Charlotte, NC, legislation that offered protections to transgender individuals.

HB2 would strip those local protections away — and would require federal employees to use a bathroom that corresponds to the sex on their birth certificates.

And while this only pertains to a portion of employees in a particular state, similar legislation is being proposed across the United States.

What does OSHA say about it?

In the past, other federal agencies have weighed in on this issue, such as OSHA, which recently published: “A Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers.

In it, OSHA clearly states that employers should allow all employees, including transgender individuals, to have access to restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.

It also noted that only 22% of transgender employees have reportedly been denied access to restrooms in the past.

All this comes on the heels of a $140,000 settlement Ellucian, a higher-ed technology services company, agreed to with the EEOC to resolve allegations that the employer illegally discriminated against a transgender employee.

The EEOC claims Ellucian barred a transgender woman from its worksite the day after she announced her gender transition from male to female.

Only time will tell what the final impact of HB2 will be, as the EEOC’s stance on transgender and sexual orientation discrimination remains largely untested in court.

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