In December 2020, a key section of House Bill 142 expired and North Carolina municipalities now have some authority to enact local inclusive non-discrimination ordinances. Elected officials are now free to pass those ordinances and many jurisdictions are exploring how best to protect their residents.
The Town of Davidson is considering adopting such an ordinance pending feedback from the community and approval from the Davidson Board of Commissioners.
At the May 11, 2021 meeting, the Davidson Board of Commissioners adopted Resolution 2021-08, Dignity and Equality in the Town of Davidson, a firm stance in support of every member of the Davidson community and clearly advocating to treat all people with respect. The resolution is available here Version OptionsNon-Discrimination OrdinanceHeadline.
In early October 2021, Mecklenburg County adopted a Non-Discrimination Ordinance which provided a new possible framework for resolving violations of a potential ordinance in the Town of Davidson as well. At the town board's direction, staff are currently working on a possible agreement with a partner agency as well as gathering input from business owners, the Housing and Equity Advisory Board, and residents.
What is changing in North Carolina that is bringing forth a conversation about non-discrimination ordinances now?
- North Carolina House Bill 142 (HB142) is a discriminatory law that has two prongs: the first prong, which remains in effect, prohibits entities like local governments and school systems from passing policies regarding the use of multiple occupancy restrooms; the second prong – which expired on December 1, 2020 – prohibited municipalities from passing non-discrimination ordinances to protect their residents.
What is possible now that the second prong of HB142 expired on December 1, 2020?
- Local governments will now be able to enact nondiscrimination ordinances regulating private employment practices, including ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, veteran status and pregnancy.
- Local governments will be able to enact nondiscrimination ordinances regulating public accommodations, which include places like hotels, restaurants, hospitals, stores, movie theaters, amusement parks, etc.
What about the first prong of HB142 that is still on the books?
- The first prong of HB142 continues to prevent local governments and other political entities from regulating multiple occupancy restrooms, even after December 1. To address this, HB142 would need to be fully repealed by the North Carolina General Assembly or found unconstitutional by the courts.
What authority do local governments really have in this area?
- Local governments can enact non-discrimination ordinances regulating private employment practices.
- Local governments can prohibit discrimination on sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Local governments can prohibit discrimination on the basis of categories it may have covered before like race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin.
- Local governments can prohibit discrimination on the basis of potentially new categories such as veteran status and pregnancy.
Are other communities, including some in North Carolina, adopting these ordinances?
- Yes, over 300 cities and 21 states have adopted non-discrimination ordinances. In the State of North Carolina, Hillsborough, Orange City, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and Durham have all already adopted such ordinances in their communities. More recently, Charlotte and Mecklenburg County adopted ordinances as well.
What does "public accommodation" mean?
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines places of public accommodation to include a wide range of entities, such as restaurants, hotels, theaters, doctors' offices, pharmacies, retail stores, museums, libraries, parks, private schools, and day care centers. Private clubs and religious organizations are exempt from the definition of public accommodations.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations (CRC) defines a place of public accommodation as a business, accommodation, refreshment, entertainment, recreation, or transportation facility of any kind, whether licensed or not, whose goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations are extended, offered, sold or otherwise made available to the public.
Over 300 cities and 21 states have adopted non-discrimination ordinances. Here are a few examples of communities that have already adopted ordinances from within the State of North Carolina.