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N.C. county votes to add protections for transgender workers

N.C. county votes to add protections for transgender workers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mecklenburg County, N.C., commissioners on Tuesday voted 6-3 to add protections for transgender workers to the county’s non-discrimination policy.

The policy revision adds the phrase “actual or perceived gender as expressed through dress, appearance, or behavior” to the equal employment and non-discrimination policy for county workers.

Mecklenburg-CountyThe proposal also adds “political affiliation” to the policy. The county last updated the policy in 2005, when it added sexual orientation.

Debate on the policy revision followed hours of debate on other controversial topics, including the county’s mental health system, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.

Scott Bishop, chair of the Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee (MeckPAC), said the revision was necessary for the county to continue to compete for good employees.

In the past five years, he said, the number of corporations including employee protections for transgender workers has more than doubled.

“Corporate America recognizes that talent comes in all forms,” he said. “Many municipalities are also following suit and realizing they need to compete for this talent pool. Providing these protections at the local level is an important step in ensuring transgender Americans are provided the same opportunities as other candidates in hiring.”

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Debate, like the vote, fell largely among party lines, though Democrat Vilma Leake questioned the definition of “transgender” and the need for the additional language.

Ratliff and other supporters said the policy revision was simply meant to bring the county’s policies in line with federal regulations.

In 2012, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that discriminating against a person on the basis of their gender identity constituted illegal sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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