"...HB2 had four primary sponsors, all Republicans, and ahead of McCrory’s Tuesday announcement, the most vocal of those, Rep. Dan Bishop of Mecklenburg County, did not return calls inquiring about who pushed for that provision.
Rep. Bob Steinburg also did not respond to inquiries, but Rep. Julia Howard, of Davie and Forsyth counties, said the language was crafted by state lawmakers.
“There were eight of us that worked on the House side and there were I think eight that worked on the Senate side,” Howard said. “It was just a collaboration of the eight members from the House, eight from the Senate that pulled the language together.”
Another sponsor, Rep. Paul Stam, of Wake County, said he knew “a lot of the source of the bill, but not the source of that one sentence.”...
...What is technically true and what is pragmatic for a fired employee bringing suit on a race-discrimination claim don’t move in lockstep.
Under the current law ushered in by HB2, employees can still file a claim at their county courthouse under the federal law, “but no employer would ever leave that federal statutory claim in state court,” Clarke said.
They would request to have it removed to federal court, a legal maneuver that gives them a financial edge, Clarke said. Federal cases are more costly, and a company that has both cash flow and insurance isn’t facing the financial pinch of an employee who might be jobless and feeding a family.
“It sends a really bad message about who we are,” Clarke said. “North Carolina’s the first state to eliminate these basic discrimination rights under state law, which is a pretty ugly distinction, and now we’re only the second state with Mississippi to not have workplace protections under state law on these fundamental categories.”
Fired employees can also seek federal discrimination protections through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but those claims must be filed within 180 days, as opposed to the three years formerly allowed under North Carolina statute.
In fiscal year 2014, about 4,000 people filed a claim though the EEOC in North Carolina, but it’s not practical for many employees, said Eric Doggett, an employment attorney and chairperson of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, an organization of legal professionals that seeks to protect rights for people.
Workplace discrimination is often just the beginning of a series of traumas, he said, and the six-month federal time frame isn’t always enough time for a potential plaintiff to begin legal action.
“They get fired, they get walked out the door, and they get traumatized again because they have no income. They try to get unemployment, but the employer fights unemployment and they are going through the fight and appeals to get their unemployment pay,” he said. “They’re trying to feed their kids. They got cut off from medical benefits. As they’re dealing with all these things, they have 180 days to file their claims with the EEOC, or they lose their federal claims forever. A lot of people don’t understand they have to do it, and it doesn’t become important to them until they need it.”
The venues are also far-flung. The 19 westernmost counties, for example, are served by one federal courthouse, which is in Asheville.
Some fired employees might not realize they have a discrimination claim until after the federal window has closed, said Asheville employment attorney Jessica Leaven.
An older employee or a pregnant woman might not know they were replaced by a younger worker or one without a newborn until that window has closed, shuttering them from discrimination claims..."
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