Equality NC at the General Assembly
Current Legislation (2015)
Equality NC tirelessly lobbies the North Carolina General Assembly and mobilizes our communities to promote legislation on issues that matter most to you, including marriage equality, parental rights, inclusive anti-bullying policies, employment discrimination, hate violence, privacy rights, sexuality education, adoption, domestic partnerships, and HIV/AIDS.
As bills are being filed for the 2015 General Assembly session, check back often to learn what Equality NC is supporting and opposing. Receive exclusive updates during session and beyond >>
One of the most pressing issues facing North Carolina’s LGBT community is the absence of protections from workplace discrimination. North Carolina is one of 29 states where it is legal to fire someone because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Many times we heard from LGBT North Carolinians who were afraid to speak out against Amendment One because they feared for their jobs. Sadly, many North Carolinians are unaware that these discriminations even exist. An Equality NC priority will be to hold legislators accountable for statements of support for the gay community by demanding that the General Assembly pass comprehensive non-discrimination legislation.
The basic American bargain is that people who work hard and meet their responsibilities should be able to get ahead. This basic bargain is not just an idea—it is embedded in laws that promote equal access to jobs and that protect workers from unfair practices.
For North Carolina workers who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), this bargain is broken. Instead of having a fair chance to get ahead, LGBT workers and their families are often held back by bias, fewer workplace benefits, and higher taxes.
Employers who value diversity and who understand that it gives them a competitive advantage can take some steps to ease the burden of unfair treatment of gay and transgender workers and their families, but they can’t fix the broken bargain on their own. The reason: unequal treatment of LGBT workers under the law.
- Barrier #1: Bias and Discrimination in Recruitment and Hiring. North Carolina’s LGBT workers can put their job prospects at risk if they disclose that they are gay or transgender while looking for work.
- Barrier #2: On-the-Job Inequality and Unfairness. An LGBT employee may be in a workplace that is blatantly hostile, one that condones anti-gay or transgender jokes and slurs, and/or one where employers look the other way and allow a discriminatory climate to flourish.
- Barrier #3: Wage Gaps and Penalties. In addition to job and workplace discrimination, LGBT employees face wage disparities that make it harder for them to provide for themselves and their families.
- Barrier #4: A Lack of Legal Protections. Only 21 states and the District of Columbia have laws prohibiting discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation. Transgender workers facing workplace discrimination may seek federal legal recourse by filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), but only 16 states and the District of Columbia explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender identity/expression. Recommendations for Action
Recommendations for Action
First, no federal law provides explicit nondiscrimination protections for LGBT workers, and 29 states, including North Carolina, have no statewide laws that protect workers based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity/expression. Second, LGBT workers may do the same job as their coworkers, yet be denied equal access to worker and family benefits—as well as family tax relief.
The combination of job discrimination, fewer benefits and higher taxes leaves many LGBT workers in a vulnerable position that threatens their ability to provide for themselves and their families. In short, for hundreds of thousands of LGBT North Carolinians, the freedom to work is unfulfilled.
Discrimination without legal protections makes it harder to find and keep a good job
A legislative update of current employment non-discrimination policies protecting state employees and teachers that includes enumerated categories for gay (“sexual orientation”) and transgender (“gender identity”) workers. CLICK HERE to encourage your legislators to support HB443/SB612, "Nondiscrimination in public employment."
The freedom of religion is one of our most fundamental rights. It's enshrined in our Constitution and reflected in laws across our nation -- and it's not up for debate.
But a new type of bill appearing in state legislatures across the country, so-called "Religious Freedom Restoration Acts" (or RFRAs), essentially allow individuals to use their religious beliefs to harm others, paving the way to challenge virtually any law designed to protect all of us from various forms of discrimination. These discriminatory bills have already created unforeseen consequences in other states, and cause real problems for people, governments and businesses. That's why professional sports teams, state chambers of commerce, religious leaders, and businesses of all sizes are speaking out against this type of legislation.
The RFRAs proposed in North Carolina are considered by many legal experts to be the most extreme form of the legislation seen anywhere, similar to bills passed in Alabama and Mississippi.
Recommendations for Action
Leadership in the N.C. General Assembly, alongside Gov. Pat McCrory, must take a strong stand against this type of legislation, rejecting proposed RFRA bills in both chambers and sending a strong message that we want our state to be a place that welcomes all people who work hard and want to help grow our economy. CLICK HERE to encourage your legislators to oppose HB348/SB550.