Labor & Employment

Controversial NC bathroom law also restricts local governments' ability to regulate employment

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Much has been said about the new North Carolina law delegating public restroom use for transgender people. But other parts of the legislation, which deal with employment law, seem to have escaped attention, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports.

“The portions of HB2 regulating bathroom use and anti-discrimination ordinances have rightly received a great deal of scrutiny, but lesser-known changes to the state’s employment law could ultimately prove just as impactful,” Jonathan Crook, an attorney with Raleigh’s Young Moore, wrote in a law firm blog post.

The law adds a section to the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act that prohibits local and city governments from imposing compensation requirements, including minimum wage levels, benefits, hours worked or well-being-of-minors requirements. The act also amends the North Carolina Equal Employment Practices Act to read that it doesn’t create or support a statutory or common law private right of action, concluding that “no person may bring any civil action based upon the public policy expressed herein.”

In a blogpost written by K&L Gates lawyers David C. Lindsay and Kaitlin C. Dewberry, the authors notes that the change does not affect local government employee compensation.

“Employers will be watching to see whether other states follow this approach and whether these new laws could represent the beginning of a significant shift in the way the employment relationship is governed at the state and local level,” the post states. “The act was hastily passed at a special session, and little comment was allowed. There has been swift public backlash against the provisions of the law dealing with discrimination and multiple-occupancy bathrooms; however, discussion of the reduction of power of local governments has been limited.”

Meanwhile, the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes North Carolina, ruled Tuesday that a Virginia school board violated Title IX when it forbid a transgender teenage boy from using the men’s room at school. The opinion (PDF) could restrict the bathroom portion of HB2 for North Carolina schools that receive state of federal funding, WSOCTV reports.

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