The controversial North Carolina law that prevents transgender people from using public bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity, and limits protection for LGBT people, violates federal civil rights law and can’t be enforced, the U.S. Justice Department said Wednesday.
NPR member station WUNC reports that the DOJ sent a letter to North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory warning him that the law, House Bill 2, violates Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which protects people from workplace discrimination based on sex.
In the letter, the department “gave state officials until Monday to respond confirming whether or not they will comply with their advisory,” the station says.
“The State is engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination against transgender state employees and both you, in your official capacity, and the state are engaging in a pattern or practice of resistance” of their rights, the letter said, according to WUNC’s Jeff Tiberii, who obtaained a copy of the letter.
The warning letter comes after President Obama criticized the law and said it “should be overturned,” as the Two-Way reported last month.
McCrory responded with a statement, giving little indication about how the state will respond. It reads, in full:
“A claim by the Obama administration charges that one part of House Bill 2, which requires state employees in public government buildings and students in our universities to use a restroom, locker room and shower facility that match their biological sex, is now in violation of federal law. The Obama administration has not only staked out its position for North Carolina, but for all states, universities and most employers in the U.S.
“The right and expectation of privacy in one of the most private areas of our personal lives is now in jeopardy. We will be reviewing to determine the next steps.”
WUNC adds that North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore also weighed in: “I’m always frustrated when the federal government overreaches on something like this.”
For more information, read this FAQ from Charlotte’s NPR member station WFAE.