Justice Dept. Warns North Carolina To Ditch Bathroom Law Or Possibly Lose Millions In Federal Funding

The U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday sent a letter to North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, which gave him until Monday to abandon a recently-passed law that mandates state transgender employees must use restrooms and facilities that match their gender at birth, not the gender they identify with. File Photo by Bezzangi/Shutterstock

RALEIGH, N.C., May 5 (UPI) — The U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday weighed in with a heavy hand on the controversial bathroom bill for transgender persons that was passed by the state of North Carolina earlier this year — and may threaten to pull millions of dollars in federal money if it doesn’t dump the law.

After concluding that the controversial measure violates federal anti-discrimination laws, the Justice Department notified North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory in a letter Wednesday that he has until Monday to abandon the law, the Charlotte Observer first reported Wednesday.

“Both you and the state of North Carolina are in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” the letter states. “Specifically, the state is engaging in a pattern of practice of discrimination against transgender state employees.”

Title VII prohibits the discrimination of employees by employers on the basis of sex, and the letter notes that federal courts and administrative agencies have previously applied that provision to cover transgender workers.

There are several ways in which the government can persuade the state to comply, an anonymous federal official told The New York Times — including the pulling of millions of dollars in federal funding.

North Carolina’s law, House Bill 2, which was signed by McCrory in March, mandates that transgender state employees must use whichever bathroom matches their gender at birth — regardless of whether they identify with males or females.

“Ordinance defied common sense, allowing men to use women’s bathroom/locker room for instance. That’s why I signed bipartisan bill to stop it,” the Republican governor stated upon signing the law.

Wednesday, he responded to the Justice Department’s letter.

“A claim by the Obama administration charges that one part of House Bill 2, which requires state employees in public government buildings and students in our universities to use a restroom, locker room and shower facility that match their biological sex, is now in violation of federal law,” he said in a statement. “The Obama administration has not only staked out its position for North Carolina, but for all states, universities and most employers in the U.S.”

“The right and expectation of privacy in one of the most private areas of our personal lives is now in jeopardy,” he continued. “We will be reviewing to determine the next steps.”

Tim Moore, North Carolina’s house speaker, agreed, calling the Justice Department’s decision an attempt to “circumvent the will of the electorate and instead unilaterally exert its extreme agenda on the people directly through executive orders, radical interpretations of well-settled common-sense laws and through the federal court system.”

Numerous people and businesses have since criticized the state for the law, which could ultimately cost the state even more in lost revenues.

Vanita Gupta, a civil rights attorney who sent the Justice Department letter, called the law “facially discriminatory” because it treats transgender employees differently than “similarly situated” persons who are not transgender.

“Please advise the Department, therefore, no later than close of business on May 9, 2016, whether you will remedy these violations … by confirming that the State will not comply with or implement H.B. 2, and that it has notified employees of the State and public agencies that … they are permitted to use bathrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity,” Gupta’s letter added.

The Justice Department also sent letters to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and University of North Carolina, which Justice officials say has violated federal law by implementing H.B. 2, with news of its decision.

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