Non-Discrimination Ordinance

Charlotte’s nondiscrimination ordinance and N.C. House Bill 2​ (HB2)

Breaking news and topics

"The Charlotte City Council acted in good faith to do everything it understood was needed to necessitate the state legislature repealing HB2, a state law that made our non-discrimination ordinance unenforceable.  Despite our efforts, the legislature was unable to pass a bill that would have repealed HB2. While we are disappointed with this unfortunate outcome, our commitment to maintaining and protecting diverse and inclusive communities remains unchanged. There are many issues that require a positive and collaborative relationship between the City and State. We will continue to work with our partners at the state and local levels to develop a solution that protects the rights of all individuals."

-City of Charlotte


 

“Today, the Charlotte City Council took additional steps to ensure the repeal of HB2 would not be jeopardized in any way. They voted 7-2 to fully repeal the ordinance adopted Feb. 22, 2016. The City Council acted in good faith to do everything that it understood was necessary to facilitate the repeal of HB2.”  

-City of Charlotte


Charlotte City Council Emergency Meeting  

Please see the attached notice calling for an emergency meeting of Charlotte City Council for Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 9 a.m. in room 267 of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center. This meeting is to consider the adoption of ordinances related to non-discrimination and HB2.

On Monday, December 19, Charlotte City Council voted to remove the City’s Non-Discrimination Ordinance, Cable TV Ordinance (invalidated by the State in 2006) and the Business Privilege License Tax (invalidated by the State in 2014) from City Code.

See the release, detailing more information >>

This document is how Article III of Chapter 12 reads as a result of City Council's action this morning, December 21, 2016. Article III of Chapter 12 of the City Code, the Public Accommodations Ordinance

 

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Charlotte wants to ensure that residents, workers, and visitors will not face discrimination.

​As such, the Charlotte City Council approved amendments to the city's nondiscrimination ordinances on Feb. 22, 2016, which added marital and familial status, sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity to the list of protected characteristics in the existing nondiscrimination ordinances. The ordinance already prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion and nationa​l origin. ​

The Non-Discrimination Ordinance can ​be found h​ere. (MOBILE USERS: After clicking the link, click on the PDF icon on the right side of the page to view a PDF of the full ordinance)

The amendments prohibited discrimination in the following areas:

  • ​​Public accommodations: Businesses and other public accommodations that serve the public are prohibited from discriminating based on any protected characteristics.  

  • Passenger vehicle for hire: Taxi cab and limousine companies and drivers may not refuse to transport any person on the basis of any protected characteristic. 

  • Commercial non-discrimination: Businesses that contract with the city may not discriminate against their vendors, suppliers, subcontractors or commercial customers on the basis of any protected characteristic.  

On March 23, 2016, the North Carolina General Assembly repealed the ordinance amendments via passage of House Bill 2.

Governor McCrory signed Executive Order 93 on April 12, 2016, to clarify the existing law and to ask the N.C. General Assembly to reconsider portions of House Bill 2. ​ ​

 Public accommodation FAQs

​The following information and frequently asked questions (FAQs) are intended to address nondiscrimination in public accommodations. The information details who is covered by the ordinance, what is and is not permitted, and how complaints are handled. The FAQs also provide information about how the ordinance impacts public accommodations and the use of public restrooms.

The Charlotte City Council adopted a nondiscrimination in places of public accommodations ordinance in 1968. The ordinance prohibited discrimination in places of public accommodations based on race, color, religion, and national origin. The City later extended non-discrimination protections based on sex. 

Amendments approved by the City Council in 2016 expand non-discrimination protections to include the following:

  • ​​​marital status
  • familial status
  • sexual orientation
  • gender identity
  • gender expression

​These amendments are effective April 1, 2016.

​The non-discrimination in places of public accommodations ordinance prohibits a business that provides a public accommodation from discriminating against a patron or customer based on one or more of that person’s protected characteristics. Those protected characteristics are: race, color, religion, sex, marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression and national origin.

Specifically, a business is not permitted to deny any person the full and equal enjoyment of the business’s goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations on the basis of any
protected characteristic. A business is not permitted to exclude, refuse to provide services, offer lesser services, or disadvantage a person because of any of the characteristics protected by the ordinance.

Simply put, a business must offer and provide to all persons the full and equal enjoyment of its goods, services, facilities, privileges, and accommodations, regardless of their race, color, religion, sex, marital
status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or national origin.

Additionally, a business may not advertise or post a sign indicating that it discriminates based on these protected characteristics.
​The ordinance applies broadly to all businesses that provide a place of public accommodation in the City of Charlotte.

The legal definition of place of public accommodation is “a business, accommodation, refreshment, entertainment, recreation, or transportation facility of any kind, whether licensed or not, whose goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations are extended, offered, sold or otherwise made available to the public.” This definition has been in place since 1968.

The determination as to whether a business does or does not provide a place of public accommodation is made on a case-by-case basis by the City of Charlotte’s Community Relations Committee in reviewing a complaint.
  • L​odging establishments or providers: Hotel, motel, room share service and bed and breakfast.
  • Refreshments: Refreshment includes eating and drinking establishments such as a restaurant, bar, nightclub, food truck, diner, lunch stand, bakery, coffee shop, snack shop and brewery.
  • Entertainment and recreation: A place of entertainment or recreation includes a variety of establishments where the public may be provided facilities or services for the purpose of recreation or entertainment such as a dance hall, ice or roller skating rink, adventure guide service, movie theater, concert hall, billiards hall, sports facility, museum, sports and entertainment venue, campground, pool, equestrian facility, bowling alley, shooting range, rock climbing facility and art gallery.
  • Transportation facility: A transportation facility is considered any private provider of transportation services such as a taxi cab, taxi company, pedi cab, carriage and bicycle vendor. 
  • Business: A business broadly includes a commercial establishment or person offering goods or services to the public, such as an attorney, doctor, accountant, architect, pharmacist, clothing store, electronics store, furniture store, variety store, hardware store, plumber, electrician, moving service, hospital, florist, grocery store, interior designer, gym, bank, consultant, car dealership, realtor, cleaning service, drug store, information technology provider, dry cleaner, salon, barber, landscaping service and mechanic.​

Yes, there are several categories of entities to which the ordinance does NOT apply. These include:

  • ​A private establishment that is not open to the public, such as a private country club, private dining club, private gymnasium and private recreation facility. 

  • A noncommercial or charitable service provider, such as a school, food kitchen, homeless shelter and food delivery service. 

  • An organization that engages in expressive activity and sincerely holds a viewpoint that would be substantially burdened in its expression by having to comply with the ordinance, such as a church and associated activities, certain education or day care providers, certain clubs or associations, and certain public policy advocacy groups that are expressive associations.

​A place of public accommodation may not refuse to provide the full and equal enjoyment of its facilities based on a protected characteristic, such as gender identity and gender expression. Restrooms, locker rooms, and other changing facilities are covered by the ordinance. 

The ordinance does NOT require the elimination of separate men’s and women’s facilities, and does not require a business to provide new or special restroom facilities. However, a business may not prohibit a transgender person from using the restroom or locker room consistent with the gender identified or expressed by that person.

The ordinance does not require a business to modify or reconstruct existing men’s and women’s restroom or changing facilities, although it may choose to do so to accommodate the privacy of its customers. Restroom facilities designated and signed for males or females are permissible and do not violate the ordinance.

​The ordinance does not permit or excuse inappropriate or unlawful activity. The ordinance protects the legitimate use of facilities for transgender persons; it is not an excuse to misuse the law for criminal purposes or even for reasons of convenience. 

A business may object to a non-transgender person seeking to use a restroom or changing facility for a false reason. A business may require persons who do not have the protected characteristics of gender identity or gender expression to use the appropriate restroom. A business may also report or remove persons who are engaging in criminal activity.

A business concerned that a non-transgender person is using an inappropriate restroom or changing facility may ask that person to use the appropriate facility. If the person does not comply, the business may contact CMPD to file a trespassing complaint. Such enforcement is not deemed to be discrimination under the ordinance. 

Additionally, the North Carolina indecent exposure laws remain valid in restrooms and locker rooms within the City of Charlotte. If a violation of the indecent exposure laws occurs, please contact CMPD.

​No. Employment is not regulated by the City of Charlotte. The ordinance only prohibits a place of public accommodation from discriminating against its customers in their enjoyment of the business’s goods, services, and facilities. Nondiscrimination in employment is regulated at the state and federal levels, not by the City of Charlotte.​

Any person who believes that he or she has been discriminated against on the basis of a protected characteristic by a place of public accommodation may file a complaint with the Community Relations Committee for investigation, conciliation, or enforcement as necessary under the circumstances.

​The Community Relations Committee processes and investigates complaints of unlawful discrimination under the ordinance and has done so since 1968. In most cases, the Community Relations Committee will first seek voluntary compliance with the law through education and conciliation to achieve a more inclusive, harmonious, and respectful community. 

The goal of the ordinance is to protect the rights, freedoms, and responsibilities of all persons in the City ​of Charlotte. While rarely necessary, the Community Relations Committee may pursue enforcement as a criminal misdemeanor or by seeking a court order directing that the discriminatory conduct cease.

​No. The ordinance does not permit private citizens to bring a lawsuit against a business in violation of the ordinance. Only the City of Charlotte may bring a civil action.

If a person believes they have been discriminated against, they may file a complaint with the City’s Community Relations Committee, which is responsible for investigating and enforcing the ordinance 

against a business that has violated the nondiscrimination ordinance in providing a public accommodation.​​

​Yes, there are a number of federal laws that may apply to a business with respect to its nondiscriminatory treatment based on protected characteristics. In a number of circumstances, the federal government has interpreted existing federal legal prohibitions on discrimination based on “sex” or “gender” to include sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Some examples include:

Title ​VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964​ prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on a person’s sex and is applicable to most employers. 

Based on the prohibition against sex discrimination, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will enforce claims of discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. ​Learn more here.

Also regarding employment and the workplace, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a guide on restroom access for transgender workers, which helps employers avoid discrimination against transgender persons.​​

Title IX of the Education Amendments ​of 1972​ prohibits discrimination based on sex in any federally funded educational program or activity, including a school. On the basis of the protections against sex discrimination, the U.S. Department of Education has brought enforcement actions in a variety of jurisdictions to prevent discrimination against transgender students.

 Passenger Vehicle for Hire FAQs

​The following information and frequently asked questions (FAQs) are intended to address nondiscrimination in passenger vehicles for hire. The information details who is covered by the ordinance, what is and is not permitted, and how complaints are handled.

​The City of Charlotte has had a passenger vehicle for hire ordinance for years. The ordinance, which regulates the taxi and limousine industry, prohibited discrimination by companies and drivers based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Amendments approved by the City Council in 2016 expand nondiscrimination protections to include marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. These amendments are effective April 1, 2016.

The passenger vehicle for hire ordinance prohibits a passenger vehicle for hire company or driver from refusing or neglecting to transport any person based on one or more of the characteristics protected by the ordinance. Those protected characteristics are: race, color, religion, sex, marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, and national origin.

​The ordinance applies to any driver of a passenger vehicle for hire and to any company that holds an operating certificate or vehicle operating permit. These typically include taxicab and limousine services. 

​Any person who believes that he or she has been discriminated against by a passenger vehicle for hire driver or company may file a complaint with the Passenger Vehicle for Hire Office. To file a complaint, the person or business should use the Passenger Vehicle for Hire complaint form.​​

​The Passenger Vehicle for Hire Office processes and investigates complaints of unlawful discrimination under the passenger vehicle for hire ordinance. The Passenger Vehicle for Hire Office may enforce the ordinance by issuing a civil fine, seeking injunctive relief, or denying, suspending, or revoking an operating certificate, vehicle operating permit, or driver’s permit of a person or business found to be in violation of the ordinance.

​No. The ordinance does not permit private citizens to bring a lawsuit against a business in violation of the ordinance. Enforcement must be sought by filing a complaint with the City’s Passenger Vehicle for Hire Office for actions consistent with Article II of Chapter 22 of the Charlotte City Code.​

 Commercial FAQs

​The following information and frequently asked questions (FAQs) are intended to address nondiscrimination for businesses that have or are seeking a contract with the City of Charlotte to provide

goods or services. The information details who is covered by the ordinance, what is and is not permitted, and how complaints are handled.

​The City of Charlotte adopted a commercial nondiscrimination ordinance in 2003. The ordinance prohibited discrimination by City contractors based on race, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity, age, or disability. Amendments approved by the City Council in 2016 expand nondiscrimination protections to include marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. These amendments are effective April 1, 2016.
​The commercial nondiscrimination ordinance prohibits a current or prospective city contractor from discriminating based on one of the characteristics protected by the ordinance. Those protected

characteristics are: race, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity, age, marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or disability.

Specifically, a business is not permitted to enter into a contract with the city for the provision of goods or services if that business discriminates in how it solicits, selects, hires, or treats its current or prospective vendors, suppliers, subcontractors, or commercial customers based on these protected characteristics.​

A business cannot impose or create any disadvantage, difference, distinction or preference with​ respect to the protected characteristics of a business or person with which it does business if such a disadvantage, difference, distinction or preference is based on a protected characteristic.

​The ordinance applies broadly to any and all businesses that contract with or seek to enter into a contract with the City of Charlotte to provide goods or services.
​A person who believes that a business that has entered into a contract with the City of Charlotte has discriminated based on a protected characteristic may file a complaint with the City’s Charlotte Business Inclusion Office. Please contact Nancy Rosado, Charlotte Business Inclusion Manager, at 704-336-2116 ​or ​nrosado@charlottenc.gov​.
​The Charlotte Business INClusion Office processes and investigates complaints of unlawful commercial discrimination. The Charlotte Business INClusion Office may find that discrimination has occurred or may require a plan to eliminate or reduce unlawful discrimination.

Additionally, the Charlotte Business INClusion Office may seek arbitration on the matter, which may result in various potential corrective actions, including terminating an existing contract, prohibiting the business from contracting with the City of Charlotte, or seeking remediation for any fraudulent certifications made during the contract application and award process regarding its nondiscrimination practices.

No. The ordinance does not permit private citizens to bring a lawsuit against a business in violation of the ordinance. Enforcement must be sought by filing a complaint with the City’s Charlotte Business

Inclusion Office for investigation, arbitration, or enforcement pursuant to Article V​​ of Chapter 2​ of the Charlotte City Code.

​HB2 timeline & official statements

February 22, 2016 - ​Charlotte City Council approves Non-Discrimination Ordinance.​​    

March 3, 2016 - Media outlets report discussion of an N.C. General Assembly special session.

Mayor's Statement on initial discussion of Special Session​: "Discrimination is never right. Shocked #NCGA is still considering hurting job growth and tourism in NC. Hope cooler heads will prevail." (via Twitter)

March 21, 2016 - The N.C. General Assembly officially announces it will hold a special session.

  • ​​Mayor's Statement on announcement of Special Session: "Special session is a waste of taxpayer money. #NCGA should focus on teacher pay, not taking away rights." (via Twitter)

March 23, 2016 - N.C. General Assembly passes House Bill 2 during special session; Governor McCrory signs it that night.

April 12, 2016 - Governor McCrory signs an executive order expanding protections for state employees to include sexual orientation and gender identity and asking the N.C. General Assembly to restore a state cause of action for wrongful discharge based on unlawful employment discrimination. 

  • Mayor's statement with regard to executive order: "Pleased to see movement from @GovOfficeNC. Historic to include LGBT protections for state employees. Look forward to more dialogue.​" (via Twitter)

Gov. McCrory's official statement on executive order 93

​​​April 19, 2016The 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rules that a policy barring a transgender student from using the boys' restroom at his Virginia high school is discriminatory. The ruling may impact House Bill 2. 

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