North Carolina: New Local Ordinances Expand Protected Categories Under Nondiscrimination Protections


Employers with Employees in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, Raleigh City, and Wake County, NC


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In North Carolina, a number of new ordinances expand upon local anti-discrimination policies, extending nondiscrimination protections to a number of new classes.

Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Previously, the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County’s policies governing public accommodations (including restaurants and businesses) prohibited discrimination based upon race, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity, age, and disability. New ordinances effective October 1, 2021 add several new classes to this list: sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, familial status, veteran status, pregnancy, and natural hairstyle.

Beginning January 1, 2022, the expanded protections apply to employers of all sizes.  Employers may not discriminate against or fail or refuse to hire a person on the basis of a protected category.  Employers of under 15 employees must abide by the ordinance as well, but the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee conciliation division may address complaints against small employers if state or federal agencies decline to take up a complaint.

Raleigh City and Wake County. For Raleigh City and Wake County, a new ordinance prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and natural hairstyle.  Similar to Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, these protections apply in places of public accommodations, and becomes effective February 1, 2022.

Notably, state law continues to govern access to multiple occupancy restrooms, showers, and changing facilities.  Religious organizations are likewise exempt from the ordinances.

Action Items

  1. Have anti-discrimination policies updated.
  2. Train appropriate personnel on the new protections.
  3. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

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