RALEIGH, N.C. – People who are in the process of suing an employer for discrimination are learning they are also affected by House Bill 2, the bill legislators passed to combat Charlotte’s bathroom ordinance that would allow people to use the bathroom matching their self identity rather than their biology.
“I don’t understand,” said Angel Carey, a discrimination plaintiff, as she brushed away tears. “Someone is going to have to explain it to me so that I can understand. I don’t…”
Earlier this week, all she knew about HB2 was that it involved people who are transgender and which restroom they use. She’s seen the protests and all the debate but she had no clue that she was smack dab in the middle of it.
“I’m not a political person,” Carey said. “I just have a great sense of what’s right and what’s wrong and I feel that that’s not going to happen anymore in North Carolina and it’s sad and it’s disturbing.”
Carey is suing her employer on claims of disability and age discrimination but she found out Thursday that HB2 means discrimination lawsuits like hers can no longer go to state court. Instead, they must now go through federal courts.
“It remains the public policy on the books that North Carolina prohibits discrimination in the workplace,” said Laura Noble, her employment attorney. “But now we have no enforcement mechanism in our state.”
Going through the federal process extends the suit, perhaps by years, plus the plaintiff can’t recover damages for pain and suffering, Noble said.
“Why would you force your citizens to go to federal court?” Noble said. “Why wouldn’t you want a state that says, ‘no we value anti-discrimination laws and we’re going to enforce them in our states.'”
Carey says now she just wants to be heard and hopes the legislature will re-vamp the law.
“That’s not who we are,” Carey said. “That’s not what we are as a country. That’s not what we are as citizens of the state and it shouldn’t be ever.”