McCrory says NC reviewing federal challenge to HB2

Photo Courtesy: WNCN

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The U.S. Justice Department said Wednesday that North Carolina’s House Bill 2  violates federal civil rights laws.

The Justice Department put North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory on notice that state officials must confirm by Monday that they will not comply with or implement the law called House Bill 2, according to a copy of the letter obtained by CBS North Carolina.

The letter asks the state to respond by Monday at the close of business whether it intends to remedy what it says are violations of Title VII. The DOJ said it also sent similar letters to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina.

The letter said, “Specifically, the State is engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination against transgender state employees and both yu, in your official capacity, and the State are engaging in a pattern or practice of resistance to the full enjoyment of Title VII rights by transgender employees of public agencies.”

The letter said “access to sex-segregated restrooms … consistent with gender identity is a term, condition, or privilege of employment.”

The letter said the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had addressed this issue and found that denying transgender people access to bathrooms consistent with their gender identity was a violation of Title VII.

If North Carolina is found to be in violation, that could impact millions of dollars in education funding. State Sen. Dan Blue, a Democrat, said it could impact $4.5 billion in funding.

McCrory said the state is reviewing the letter, and stressed that it only impacts the section on bathrooms in public buildings.

A claim by the Obama administration charges that one part of House Bill 2, which requires state employees in public government buildings and students in our universities to use a restroom, locker room and shower facility that match their biological sex, is now in violation of federal law. The Obama administration has not only staked out its position for North Carolina, but for all states, universities and most employers in the U.S.

“The right and expectation of privacy in one of the most private areas of our personal lives is now in jeopardy. We will be reviewing to determine the next steps,” McCrory said in a release.

Senate leader Phil Berger attacked the decision, saying, “This is a gross overreach by the Obama Justice Department that deserves to be struck down in federal court.”

House Speaker Tim Moore, speaking Wednesday night before the North Carolina Chamber, said the state’s brand has been unfairly under attack. He said the state is looking at “possible tweaks here and there” to House Bill 2.

North Carolina passed House Bill 2 in a day, but the passing of the bill has drawn a national response.

Attorney General Roy Cooper, who is challenging McCrory in the gubernatorial race, said in a statement, “Enough is enough. It’s time for the governor to put our schools and economy first and work to repeal this devastating law.”

Tami Fitzgerald with the North Carolina Values Coalition said the Obama Administration has taken a radical interpretation of Titles IX and VII.

“The the Obama Administration persists in this radical interpretation of federal law, I think this will end up in court and I think they’ll be defeated,” Fitzgerald said.

State Rep. Chris Sgro, a Democrat from Guilford County, said, “I don’t know how supporters of House Bill 2 stick to their guns at this point.  We’ve seen the deep economic and other damage that it’s done to the state of North Carolina in just a month.  We’ve gotten firm guidance from the Department of Justice that we’re in violation of the federal Civil Rights Act.  That is terrible for our national reputation and terrible for our people here in North Carolina.”

The ACLU of North Carolina and Lambda Legal, which are challenging House Bill 2 in court, said, “It is now clearer than ever that this discriminatory law violates civil rights protections and jeopardizes billions of dollars in federal funds for North Carolina. Gov. McCrory and the legislators who forced through HB2 in a single day were warned about these dire consequences, but they ignored the law and the North Carolinians it would harm and passed the bill anyway. The only way to reverse the ongoing damage HB 2 is causing to North Carolina’s people, economy, and reputation is a full repeal.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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