Employment discrimination lawyer weighs in on proposed HB2 changes

Employment discrimination lawyer weighs in on proposed HB2 changes

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The future of House Bill 2 is being discussed behind closed doors after WBTV released a leaked draft of proposed changes to the law.

One part of the law that Governor Pat McCrory has said he wanted to see changed is to allow North Carolinians to sue in state court if they face discrimination in the workplace.

Kevin Murphy is lawyer at Van Kampen Law, a law firm that represents workers in discrimination cases. He said he's not sure if the draft bill obtained by WBTV goes far enough to reinstate that state right.

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"Put HB2 to the side for a second, there's a law from the 1970s called the North Carolina Equal Employment Protection Act - that law said race, color, religion, disability, gender. HB2 added a sentence that said 'just kidding,' basically. It said this is our policy, but you can't sue under it anymore," Murphy said about the current law.

Van Kampen Law is the same law firm that has been representing Maryanne White in her age discrimination case. White, who is 64 years old, said she was fired from her job with no warning after 28 years of service. She said HB2 changed the path she was going to take to seek justice. Her lawyers have told her HB2 eliminates her ability to file a lawsuit in state court, and she's concerned it will affect the outcome of her case.

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Kevin Murphy says he isn't sure if the proposed language in the draft bill for HB2 could help Maryanne White or others in her same situation.

"As far as this draft goes they deleted the sentence that said just kidding. But instead of race, color, gender... instead of spelling out the protected categories they simply refer to federal law, which is going to open up the question as to, whether when an employee sues on one of these, whether they're able to go to our state courts or whether the employer is able to bring it to federal court instead," Murphy said.

Murphy said he would like to review the actual bill language by going to the general assembly's web site. He wants lawmakers to be transparent.

"It sure would be nice if they would file what the real bill is so we can have a real conversation about what's actually going to happen," Murphy said.

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