Justice Department Declares North Carolina’s HB2 Unlawful

In a stinging blow for North Carolina’s GOP, the Justice Department has issued notice that the state’s license to discriminate bill, known as HB2, violates federal sex discrimination protections.

In a letter to Governor Pat McCrory dated May 4, the Department of Justice has given an uncompromising rebuke to both the Governor and the State over HB2. Among other items, the law mandates that citizens use public accommodations and bathrooms based on their birth sex.

The letter states: “Specifically, the State is engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination against transgender state employees and both you, 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.”

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act asserts that employers cannot discriminate against people on the grounds of sex, race, color, national origin or religion. For a number of years now, the Obama administration has maintained that those sex protections cover trans rights.

While federal courts have appeared somewhat divided on the issue, a recent Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on near identical protections in federal law that govern education and student rights would further support the administration’s claim.

The letter goes on to declare that HB2 “is facially discriminatory against transgender employees on the basis of sex because it treats transgender employees, whose gender identity does not match their ‘biological sex,’ as defined by HB2, differently from similarly situated non-transgender employees.”

Furthermore, it tackles the specific issue of bathroom access: ”By requiring compliance with H.B. 2, you and the State are therefore resisting the full enjoyment of Title VII rights and discriminating against transgender employees of public agencies by requiring those public agencies to comply with H.B. 2.”

The letter gives McCrory until May 9 to confirm that North Carolina has ceased to enforce HB2 in its current form so that the state does not conflict with federal law.

The DOJ also issued a letter dated May 4 to Margaret Spellings, President of the University of North Carolina, and the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.

The letter, which responds to the University’s own request for guidance on HB2 and federal law compliance, outlines how HB2 puts the University in violation of federal law. In addition to many of the same reasons outlined above, HB2 also requires the University to violate Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.

That letter says that by following the discriminatory provisions of HB2, the University would endanger its federal funding — which is dependent on the institution following federal law. Furthermore, it highlights how federal sex discrimination protections apply to trans rights, requiring that the University offer facilities that respect gender identity wherever possible.

In what has become typical fashion, Governor McCrory reacted defiantly to the Obama administration’s letter on HB2. Instead of addressing criticisms surrounding HB2′s human rights infringements, McCrory accused the government of overreach.

“This is no longer just a N.C. issue. This impacts every state, every university and almost every employee in the United States of America,” he said. “All those will have to comply with new definitions of requirements by the federal government regarding restrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities in both the private and public sector.”

But it was McCrory and the state Republicans who actually created a new standard when they steamrolled Charlotte’s trans-inclusive rights ordinance and used HB2 to bring a new mandatory requirement for public accommodations. This was demonstrably government overreach by the state.

So what happens next?

If North Carolina does not comply with the letter, the DOJ can file a federal lawsuit. This would be a major test of the Obama administration’s contention that anti-trans laws violate existing federal law. And for that reason, it will be an important fight not just for trans people in North Carolina but for those across the United States.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.


Elisa F
Elisa Fabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing.

sandy Gardner
sandy Gardner1 years ago


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Nina S.
Nina S2 years ago


Cela V.
Cela V2 years ago


Charlie H.
ROBERTO M2 years ago


Karen H.
Karen H2 years ago

So right, Marianne C. The reason they feel rape isn't wrong is because their god condones it. "Go kill those people. Slaughter the men, boys and women who have had children. Rip open the pregnant women. Smash infants against rocks. And when you’re done, take 'wives' of the virgins." I'm sure those virgins were sooo willing to go with the men who murdered their parents and siblings. They cherry-pick Bible verses that support their views, yet ignore verses that pertain to them. Playing football on the sabbath breaks at least two laws, and I don't see many clergy refusing to perform marriage ceremonies for people who have been divorced. So much hypocrisy and "let's sweep it under the rug". Clean up your own back yard before you climb the fence into my yard. Hooray to the Methodist clergy who said, "LGBTQI people and their families exist in every church in every continent of this denomination. They are seeking to remain in faithful relationship with you, even when you refuse, because they know God’s tender mercies and great faithfulness." Looks like two versions of god. One side says "God is love", the other says "God hates (take your pick)".

Marianne C.
Marianne C2 years ago

@ Karen H:


The right wing fetishizes violence, especially in males, while being priggish about sex, conflates Christianity with bigotry and hatred, & confuses traditional work ethics with unprincipled corporatism & consumerism with family values.

They claim to loves liberty & freedom, yet are opposed to human rights and civil liberties for anyone but themselves. They CERTAINLY oppose our right to be free of THEM. They don't want us free; they want us subject to their will.

They believe that manly men are entitled to take sex wherever they find it, but don't believe in birth control, or in women terminating pregnancy having been the victim of such a man (or men.) They don't believe that rape is a problem. The problem as far as they are concerned is women who don't want to bear a rapist's spawn. They don't believe in sex ed, though we have the highest teen pregnancy rate in the first world.

Their religion has devolved into gay bashing, prosperity gospel, and keeping transwomen out of the ladies' room. Pirates in pulpits across the country either thunder hate and fear, or make unctuous calls for donations that go to nobody but themselves.

All of which is the tip of the iceberg. The biggest problem is that they project their own terrified delusions and bigotries on everybody else, blaming crimes on people who don't commit them while ignoring real crime and real suffering. How does a sane person respect that?

pam w.
pam w2 years ago

Wait until they discover they've got a ''deeply held religious conviction'' that people of different skin colors shouldn't be allowed to marry and mingle with people known as ''white.'' Wait until they discover their similarly ''deeply held conviction'' that women shouldn't be allowed to work or attend college. Just wait.....

So very Jesusish, isn't it?

Danuta Watola
Danuta W2 years ago

Thanks for this information.