North Carolina Law May Risk Federal Aid

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/02/us/politics/north-carolina-anti-discrimination-law-obama-federal-funds.html

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is considering whether North Carolina’s new law on gay and transgender rights makes the state ineligible for billions of dollars in federal aid for schools, highways and housing, officials said Friday.

Cutting off any federal money — or even simply threatening to do so — would put major new pressure on North Carolina to repeal the law, which eliminated local protections for gay and transgender people and restricted which bathrooms transgender people can use. A loss of federal money could send the state into a budget crisis and jeopardize services that are central to daily life.

Although experts said such a drastic step was unlikely, at least immediately, the administration’s review puts North Carolina on notice that the new law could have financial consequences. Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina had assured residents that the law would not jeopardize federal money for education.

But the law also represents a test for the Obama administration, which has declared that the fight for gay and transgender rights is a continuation of the civil rights era. The North Carolina dispute forces the administration to decide how aggressively to fight on that principle.

The North Carolina law created a mandatory statewide anti-discrimination policy, but it did not include specific protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The law prohibits transgender people from using public bathrooms that do not match the sexes on their birth certificates.

Continue reading:  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/02/us/politics/north-carolina-anti-discrimination-law-obama-federal-funds.html

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NC HB2 Trans “Bathroom” Bill Also Cements Income Inequality

From Forbe’s Magazine:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/eriksherman/2016/04/04/nc-hb2-trans-bathroom-bill-also-cements-income-inequality/

Erik Sherman
April 4, 2016

North Carolina’s HB2 “bathroom” bill that requires trans people to use the bathroom for the gender indicated on their birth certificates has received national attention. Unfortunately, coverage of the bill — really, the law, at this point — has largely been reduced to who should be able to use which bathroom.

It is more. There has been at least some discussion of how the new law prohibits a local government or any “political subdivision of the state” from establishing gender identity as a class protected from employment discrimination. What has received little attention is how an entire section of the law has nothing explicit to do with issues of gender identity. Instead, it prohibits local governments from affecting employment conditions in private companies.

Part 2 of the law, which reworks the state’s “Wage and Hour Act,” prevents any local government, whether city, town, or county, from regulating wage levels, hours of labor, or benefits of private employers. Here is the pertinent language:

 The provisions of this Article supersede and preempt any ordinance, regulation, resolution, or policy adopted or imposed by a unit of local government or other political subdivision of the State that regulates or imposes any requirement upon an employer pertaining to compensation of employees, such as the wage levels of employees, hours of labor, payment of earned wages, benefits, leave, or well-being of minors in the workforce.

A local government still can control benefits and compensation of its own employees, although it cannot place any requirements on contractors it uses to carry out work. In the past, according to the sections struck, a local government could place requirements on a contractor so long as it could have imposed the same requirements on all its employees.

Some of the advances in battling income inequality have come at the local level. Cities and counties have set higher minimum wages, regulated the number of hours employers must provide employees, required that employers give advanced notice of hours so employees can manage their personal and other work schedules, and instituted mandatory sick time.

Under HB2, that is not possible in North Carolina.

Plus, there’s an additional twist:

A city [or county] may not require a private contractor under this section to abide by regulations or controls on the contractor’s employment practices or mandate or prohibit the provision of goods, services, or accommodations to any member of the public as a condition of bidding on a contract or a qualification-based selection, except as otherwise required by state law.

That would seem to reinforce the last section of the law, meaning that a locality couldn’t require a contractor to service any particular group, like trans people, if not required to by state law.

Continue reading at:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/eriksherman/2016/04/04/nc-hb2-trans-bathroom-bill-also-cements-income-inequality/

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