Charlotte City Council unanimously votes to support non-discrimination ordinance

WBTV has obtained a draft copy of Charlotte’s new non-discrimination ordinance.
Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 6:59 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 9, 2021 at 11:12 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The City of Charlotte voted unanimously on Monday to support an ordinance that would ban employers from discriminating against a person based on sexual orientation, gender identity and natural hairstyles among other factors.

City leaders called the vote “historic.”

“We have to lead by example for future generations,” Charlotte City Councilwoman Dimple Ajmera said.

“I believe this is the right thing to do,” Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles added.

Nearly 40 people signed up to express their thoughts and opinions on the ordinance.

Before Monday’s meeting, community members, including Charlotte’s LGBTQ community held a press conference outside the Government Center in uptown Charlotte.

“We are not asking for anything special. We are not asking for special privileges,” said Rell Lowery, from Charlotte Black Pride. “We are just asking to be looked at as human beings that we are and to respect our differences.”

“It’s about time, it’s about time,” added Jenny Gunn.

WBTV obtained a draft copy of Charlotte’s new non-discrimination ordinance.

The city released a draft of the new local legislation. The ordinance protects people based on several factors, but it also raises some questions about how it will be enforced on small businesses.

The ordinance lists the factors, with definitions:

  • Gender identity and gender expression - Having or being perceived as having gender-related identity, expression, appearance, or behavior, whether or not that identity, expression, appearance, or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the sex assigned to that individual at birth.
  • Natural hairstyle - Any hair texture, color, type or style of wear historically associated with race or national origin.
  • Protected Class - A person’s race, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity, age, familial status, sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression), veteran status, pregnancy, natural hairstyle or disability.
  • Sexual orientation - A person’s actual or perceived emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to other people which includes, but is not limited to, heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality.

The ordinance will apply to all employers, regardless of how many employees there are.

Mayor Vi Lyles has been talking about a new ordinance for months and now the city has finally released a draft of what they’re planning.

The last time Charlotte passed a non-discrimination ordinance, it led to a contentious fight with the state general assembly, which passed HB2, known as the Bathroom Bill.

This is the first year after the bathroom bill was repealed that local municipalities have been able to pass their own non-discrimination ordinances.

The ordinance has a couple of major areas of focus that people behind the scenes are already talking about. One of them is ensuring that people wearing their natural hairstyles do not face prejudice or discrimination.

As of now, enforcement does not include fines initially but instead a referral to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community relations committee.

The changes to employment discrimination is set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2022.

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