In December 2020, a key section of House Bill 142 expired and North Carolina municipalities now have the 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.
A protected class includes race, ethnicity, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, national origin or ancestry, citizen or non-citizen, marital status, familial status, pregnancy, natural hair or hairstyles, military and veteran status, religious belief or non-belief, age, or handicap or disability of any person.
Complaints will be reviewed by Town of Davidson Equity Board Review Committee.
- A complaint will initiate an investigation
- The Committee will, within a reasonable time period, investigate complaint
- Schedule a meeting or conversation with the parties to resolve the issue through gaining a mutually agreed upon resolution.
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.
Who is making the recommendation on the Non-Discrimination Ordinance for the Town of Davidson?
- Based on feedback from the community, the Affordable Housing and Equity Advisory Board was tasked with the work of making a recommendation to the Davidson Board of Commissioners on the Non-Discrimination Ordinance. Supported by town staff, these volunteer members of the Davidson community have been engaging in research and meaningful conversation about what has been done in other municipalities and what may make sense for the Town of Davidson. The committee has created a draft of the language and made a preliminary recommendation, but is now engaging in the public input process to gauge the community's interest more broadly in adopting this ordinance in Davidson. Ultimately, the final decision rests with the elected officials on the Davidson Board of Commissioners.
How would violations against the Non-Discrimination Ordinance be handled in the Town of Davidson?
- The following is a proposed process for how violations would be handled:
- Those grieved may file a written complaint within (14) days of alleged violation with the Town of Davidson Equity Board Review Committee. A complaint will initiate an investigation, followed by conciliation or an option for filing of a violation of the ordinance. The Committee will, within a reasonable time period, investigate and schedule a meeting or conversation with the parties to resolve the issue through an inclusive approach to seek understanding and education and gain a mutually agreed upon resolution.
- lf this collaborative effort is unsuccessful, and/or upon a case-by-case basis, the Equity Board may refer the parties, upon their agreement, to a qualified mediator. lf no resolution is reached with this process, the aggrieved party may file a violation of the city ordinance as a civil violation.
- Any person, firm, or corporation found to be in violation of this ordinance shall be guilty under G.S. 14-4 (a) of a civil forfeiture and shall be fined five hundred dollars ($500) each and every day during which the discrimination continues as a separate offense. ln addition, or in light of the remedies proposed, an equitable remedy may be a mandatory or prohibitory injunction of the discriminatory action prohibited by this ordinance. Gs 153.a 12316Oa-175.
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.
Based upon concerns and feedback from the Davidson Board of Commissioners at their regular meeting on April 27, 2021, the survey previously posted on SpeakUp has been closed. Town staff will be working on other opportunities to provide feedback related to the potential adoption of a non-discrimination ordinance. Thank you to all of you who participated in this process up to this point.