The Department of Justice has taken sides in the North Carolina transgender bathroom debate, and it will have major legal consequences.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in letter to North Carolina officials that HB2 violated the Civil Rights Act and gave them until Monday to remedy the violation, The Charlotte Observer first reported Wednesday. HB2 requires transgender people use the restroom that corresponds with the sex on their birth certificate and bans local governments from making LGBT ordinances. The law has been the source of national debate and multiple boycotts.
Title IX of the Civil Rights Act bans educational discrimination on the basis of sex and Title VII bans employer discrimination. If the state refuses to comply, it could lose millions of dollars in federal funds.
The DOJ has not released the letter, but The Charlotte Observer obtained a copy. From the letter:
Access to sex-segregated restrooms and other workplace facilities consistent with gender identity is a term, condition or privilege of employment. Denying such access to transgender individuals, whose gender identity is different from the gender assigned at birth, while affording it to similarly situated non-transgender employees, violates Title VII …
The battle began when Charlotte’s city council passed an ordinance allowing people to use the bathroom for the gender they choose. In response to the city’s ordinance, the state passed a HB2.
The ACLU, Lambda Legal, and the ACLU of North Carolina filed suit in late March saying the new law allows businesses to refuse to serve or hire LGBT people and leaves them no legal recourse. Now, it appears they have the backing of the DOJ.
Georgia’s legislature passed a similar bill in March, but the state’s governor vetoed it after a slew of large businesses in the state voiced opposition. Mississippi passed a law in April saying people can refuse service based on their belief that sex belongs within marriage, that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and that gender correspond with a person’s anatomical gender at birth. That law was met with outrage as well.
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