U.S. Government Responds to N.C. 'Bathroom Bill' Lawsuit by Suing State

DOJ, EEOC say H.B. 2 violates Civil Rights Act of 1964

By Andrew Peeling May 9, 2016
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The U.S. government filed a lawsuit against North Carolina on Monday, just hours after Gov. Pat McCrory sued the Department of Justice (DOJ) requesting that a federal court review whether the state's controversial "bathroom bill" violated U.S. law.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the lawsuit Monday afternoon, saying that North Carolina was in violation of provisions in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Title IX of the Education Acts Amendment of 1972 and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act that outlaw discrimination on the basis of sex.

"We are seeking a court order declaring H.B. 2's restroom restriction 'impermissibly discriminatory,' as well as a statewide bar on its enforcement," Lynch said.

The lawsuit names North Carolina, McCrory, the North Carolina Department of Health and Safety and the University of North Carolina as defendants, Lynch said.

McCrory filed a lawsuit against the DOJ on Monday in response to the department's assessment that the state's controversial H.B. 2 "bathroom bill" violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

"The Obama administration is bypassing Congress by attempting to rewrite the law and set restroom policies for public and private employers across the country, not just North Carolina. This is now a national issue that applies to every state and it needs to be resolved at the federal level," McCrory wrote in a statement released Monday. "They are now telling every government agency and every company that employs more than 15 people that men should be allowed to use a women's locker room, restroom or shower facility."

North Carolina's H.B. 2 says individuals are permitted only to use bathrooms that correspond with the gender listed on their birth certificate, which two federal agencies and LGBT rights groups say discriminates against transgender people. The law affects North Carolina state government employers but does not cover private employers.

McCrory's lawsuit asks federal courts to clarify federal law, according to a news release posted on the governor's website. McCrory also noted that he has directed state agencies to make a reasonable accommodation of a single occupancy restroom and that North Carolina also allows private companies to set their own policies for bathrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stated in a May 2 fact sheet that denying an employee access to a restroom that corresponds to the employee's gender identity is sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Two days later, the DOJ requested that McCrory respond no later than May 9 about whether his office would remedy the violations of the law. North Carolina risks losing millions in federal funding for public schools if the state does not affirm that it will not comply with H.B. 2.

McCrory said he asked for more time to respond to the DOJ's request, but the DOJ refused.

"I'm taking this initiative to ensure that North Carolina continues to receive federal funding until the courts resolve this issue," McCrory said Monday.

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