Section 3.2 of the bill states discrimination lawsuits by employees against their employers will no longer be heard in state courts across North Carolina.
And according to a memo by North Carolina Advocates for Justice, the bill prevents employees from filing lawsuits against their employers for all forms of discrimination, including race, religion, national origin, age, sex or handicap.
“By doing this, the state has taken away its citizens’ private right of action,” said Meg Maloney of Maloney Law & Associates in Charlotte.
She said the new process is much more difficult for employees to go through.
“Now if an employee chooses to sue for discrimination, they must go through a federal court, which is much more complicated, expensive and time-consuming,” Maloney said.
Section 3.2 of the bill also outlines the procedure for pursuing claims of workplace discrimination.
According to House Bill 2, the Human Relations Commission in the Department of Administration will have the authority to receive and investigate charges of discrimination from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
According to the bill, “The agency shall use its good offices to effect an amicable resolution of the charges of discrimination.”
Representative Graig Meyer, D-Orange, said this is a separation of power issue in North Carolina.
“Mississippi is the only other state like North Carolina where state courts won’t hear cases,” Meyer said.
“I don’t like the idea that we’re on the same list as Mississippi about stuff like this.”
Meyer said he’s also concerned about how effectively the commission can handle the additional workload.
According to Meyer, the Department of Administration almost had their funding eliminated during the last budget meetings, and they’re currently working on a temporary budget.
Bill Bryan, deputy secretary of the N.C. Department of Administration, declined to comment on Section 3.2 of the bill.
As for the effects the bill will have on the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Reuben Daniels, the district director of the EEOC’s Charlotte region, said he isn’t worried.
“We don’t believe the new legislation will have any impact on the EEOC,” Daniels said.