NC discrimination law creates business backlash

Posted March 24, 2016

— The anti-discrimination law passed hurriedly in North Carolina on Wednesday quickly produced a backlash in the business community because it doesn't extend protections to gays and lesbians.

Companies began tweeting their opposition to the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act during legislative debate Wednesday afternoon, and the hashtag #WeAreNotThis quickly took hold on social media after Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill into law late Wednesday night.

McCrory on Thursday defended the measure, focusing on a provision that overturns a Charlotte ordinance that would have allowed transgender people to use the public bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

"I feel very strongly that we, as governor I, need to protect the basic expectations of privacy that all individuals should be allowed to have, especially in the sanctity of a restroom," he said.

Businesses were more concerned that state lawmakers blocked any protections against discrimination in employment or public accommodations for the LGBT community.

"We believe no individual should be discriminated against because of gender identity or sexual orientation. Laws that allow such discrimination go against our fundamental belief of equality and are bad for the economies of the states in which they are enacted," said Katie Cody, a spokeswoman for American Airlines, which has its second-largest hub at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.

Wells Fargo, Replacements Ltd., Apple, Microsoft and others all signed on to a statement in opposition to the North Carolina law and similar legislation in other states.

"Equality in the workplace is a business priority to foster talent and innovation, and these state laws undermine this core value," the statement said. "These state laws set a dangerous precedent that stifles investment and economic growth by jeopardizing a state’s status as a welcoming place for employees to live and thrive, undermining the success of a business at large. It is unreasonable for job creators to recruit a diverse workforce from states that encourage businesses to discriminate against our community of employees or consumers."

Supporters of the law responded by saying "big out-of-state corporations bullying North Carolinians" and noting hundreds of business owners statewide have signed a letter thanking lawmakers and McCrory for their actions.

Scott Harmon, who owns an architecture firm in downtown Durham and sits on the board of the Carolina Theatre, is one local businessman who is taking the side of the major corporations.

"This news is hitting across the country right now as an example of what not to do in terms of creating a fair and diverse environment for businesses to thrive," Harmon said.

Duke University, which is Durham's largest employer, also came out against the law.

"Duke University values every individual. We are committed to equality, diversity and inclusion, which makes us a better and stronger community. For that reason, we deplore any effort to deny any person the protection of the law because of sexual orientation or gender identity," Duke administrators said in a statement, adding that bathrooms on campus wouldn't be affected by the new law.

Not every organization was quick to connect the law with a negative economic impact, however.

"We understand there are a wide range of opinions on this issue. However, we can't at this time speculate on what impact the legislation might have on Wake County’s tourism industry," the Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau said in a statement.


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  • Charlie Watkins Mar 25, 2016
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    Over 4 million left the state we when passed the defense of marriage amendment and now another 4 million will leave due to not knowing which bathroom to use.

  • Ron Corey Mar 25, 2016
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    How many of these businesses that have a problem with this new law have reduced the benefits and wages of their employees and have fought against labor unions and collective bargaining?
    Just more smoke and mirrors to get voters minds off of the issues that are really important.

  • Fanny Chmelar Mar 25, 2016
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    "I feel very strongly that we, as governor I, need to protect the basic expectations of privacy that all individuals should be allowed to have, especially in the sanctity of a restroom," he said.

    Let me correct that:
    "I feel very strongly that, as governor, I need to strip local communities' governments of the basic liberty that all should be allowed to have - self-governance - especially when I make it seem like it's about the sanctity of a restroom to scare y'all."

  • Robert Richardson Mar 25, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    You mean like they could do before this law was passed?

  • Robert Richardson Mar 25, 2016
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    You do realize that the majority of pedophiles are straight don't you?

  • Roland Kandalbar Mar 25, 2016
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    oh ok, but joking about issues that deal with equity, discrimination, seems a little small-minded. sorry if I am a little sensitive about this.

  • Pete Muller Mar 25, 2016
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    Yes, businesses do take notice of state laws. While this law will not make a business move, it will play a role when the location for the next expansion is getting considered. NC has lost most of its image of a forward thinking government and a well educated work force.

  • Keith Adams Mar 25, 2016
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    Thank you WRAL now I know which business I need not support as they support the normalization of immorality,,,,

  • Chance Loria Mar 25, 2016
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    Ummm ... Roland, It looks to me as though you are the ignoramus. There was absolutely nothing fearful or irrational about Jonathan's statement. It was more comedic and sarcastic.

  • Raleigh Rose Mar 25, 2016
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    Glad to see businesses condemning this fear and hate filled law.

    I guess because this law was passed pedophiles will all of sudden stop committing crimes? Or since most rapes occur in women's restrooms, then because a person born male is no longer "allowed" in, then that means these types of rapes will also stop? Seriously? Just how obtuse are you people?

    This law has nothing to do with protecting anyone. Other states and cities have had similar laws for years, see Rhode Island for example, and have had no issues. Nada. Zero. Zilch. It's a wedge issue.

    The law also states that the person must use the restroom for their gender at birth, so if you have a male that has fully transitioned from being a female, this person still has to use the ladies room. I think the GA should have thought this through a little first, before pandering to their purblind base. But I guess critical thinking, simple logic, or even compassion, are both beyond some in the GOP these days.