Varying LGBT Obligations Underscore Importance of Local Employment Laws (Updated)
Until recently, North Carolina law broadly prohibited discrimination in private employment on the basis of “sex”, and did not foreclose a private right of action by an aggrieved person. On March 23, 2016, this law was amended to change “sex” to “biological sex”, and to expressly foreclose any private right of action based upon any protected category, including race, religion, color, national origin or handicap. The new legislation also purports to supersede and preempt any local government ordinance which conflicts with this amendment.
Along with a November 3, 2015 voter defeat of a Houston anti-discrimination ordinance, the new North Carolina law is a setback for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender) advocates who had enjoyed previous success in obtaining legal protections from bias in private employment. For three important reasons, these events have also served to highlight the inconsistency of employment laws to which private employers with multiple locations can be subject.