McCrory's "Myths vs. Facts" Don't Add Up
Governor Pat McCrory has sent out an email blaming the media for misconstruing the details about the impact that House Bill 2 will have on North Carolina. Yet when it comes down to the facts, it's Governor McCrory that falls short. WRAL fact-checked his statement and gave it their worst rating possible.
Q: Does this bill take away existing protections for individuals in North Carolina?
McCrory's Answer: "No. In fact, for the first time in state history, this law establishes a statewide anti-discrimination policy in North Carolina which is tougher than the federal government's. This also means that the law in North Carolina is not different when you go city to city."
Fact Check: This claim is problematic on a multiple fronts. As we noted in a story last week, the law appears to wipe away protections for people against being fired based on "race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex or disability." In particular, the bill says North Carolina law "does not create, and shall not be construed to create or support, a statutory or common law private right of action, and no person may bring any civil action based upon the public policy expressed herein."
Lawyers argue this line forces wrongfully-fired employees to head to federal court.
"Federal courts are, on balance, difficult venues to win employment and wage discrimination cases," said Tom Spiggle, an employment lawyer based in Arlington, Va. "While the discussion around the law has centered on bathrooms, it could end up limiting the options of North Carolinians who face other kinds of discrimination as well."
Also, in addition to Charlotte, there were at least two other cities in North Carolina that had nondiscrimination ordinances that could be affected by HB2. One, in Greensboro, deals with a broad nondiscrimination policy that covers, among other things, housing. Another, in Raleigh, prohibits discrimination by city contractors on the basis of "age, handicap, sex, race, color, creed, sexual orientation or national origin."
House Bill 2 says that the policy of the state is to prohibit discrimination based on "race, religion, color, national origin, age, biological sex or handicap." It conspicuously leaves out sexual orientation. And the bill prohibits cities from enacting ordinances that provide broader protections than those laid out by the state.
"The City Attorney’s office is currently reviewing how HB2 impacts city ordinances," said a spokesman for the City of Raleigh. Mayor Nancy McFarlane later said, "We still have many questions as to the effect of HB2 on our city processes. Our legal staff is conducting a careful review, and we hope to have more insight as to the bill’s impacts in the coming days. And while HB2 may affect some of our legal language, it does not change our hearts."
Asked Monday during an impromptu news conference about the apparent discrepancy between his office's fact sheet and the problems faced by Greensboro and Raleigh, if not others, McCrory said, "I don't know who's talking to you. We'll get back to you on that. You're blindsiding me with a question." He asked us to put to the question to his office.
"Greensboro’s housing ordinance is not preempted by HB2. It is authorized by a different statute," said Graham Wilson, McCrory's press secretary. Another spokesman followed up to point out that while HB2 affects "public accommodations," it does not name "housing" as an area of law that is affected.
However, lawyers for the Americans Civil Liberties Union and other lawyers with groups opposed to HB2 said Greensboro's ordinance was, in fact, affected.
Q: Will this bill affect North Carolina’s ability to create or recruit jobs?
McCrory's Answer: "This bill does not affect companies in North Carolina. North Carolina was one of the top states to do business in the country before this law was passed, and preventing Charlotte’s bathroom ordinance from going into effect on April 1 won’t change that."
Fact Check: In the days since the bill has been signed, multiple large corporations including American Airlines, which has a major hub in Charlotte, and Duke University, Durham's largest employer, came out in opposition to the law. Wells Fargo, Replacements Ltd., Apple, Microsoft all signed on to a statement opposing the law.
And on Monday, the High Point Furniture Market Authority, which organizes the massive semi-annual furniture trade show, warned that it was seeing blowback from the bill.
"Dozens of customers have contacted the High Point Market Authority to inform us that they have canceled plans to attend the Market in April due to passage of HB2. There are also several campaigns on social media calling for a boycott of the High Point Market this spring," the authority said in a statement.
The NBA, which is scheduled to hold its all-star game in Charlotte next year, warned last week that it could revisit that decision, saying the "law runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect."
WRAL News has requested copies of correspondence to McCrory from business leaders who support the law. His press office has not yet responded. Asked Monday about the law's impact on businesses, McCrory said he had no business threaten to leave the state.
"I've had many corporations recertify their commitment to nondiscrimination, and we've clearly stated to them that their policies do not change," he said, adding, "Every company is allowed to have their own nondiscrimination ordinance in North Carolina."