A unanimous City Council vote August 9 signifies that all Charlotte residents will now be protected from discrimination in the workplace. The ordinance covers sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and natural hairstyles. It will also bar discrimination in public accommodations, such as hotels and housing.
The NDO was originally proposed to apply to businesses with only 14 or fewer employees. This meant that employees at larger companies would have been required to access protection and legal recourse on a federal level. City Attorney Patrick Baker continues to advocate for this course of action, saying that Charlotte will receive an influx of complaints from larger organizations or businesses that the city is not equipped to handle.
Despite Baker’s somewhat less than logical claims, the nondiscrimination ordinance was passed without restrictions, meaning that all employers, no matter the company or corporation size, must abide by these regulations. What the NDO does not cover includes religious and political organizations, public restrooms, private clubs or membership-based groups.
The changes that are being made in professional settings, however, are life-changing all the same. Vice President of the Charlotte chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) Jenny Gunn stood before the Mecklenburg County Government and told her story. As a transgender woman, she has been the victim of job discrimination in Charlotte, often realizing that her pronouns and identity would not be respected in the workplace. Said Gunn: “This is about freedom.”
Despite dissenting opinions from a handful of individuals who spoke in Council Chambers, the City Council was not moved by their attempts at justifying discrimination. Instead, as each member voted in favor of the NDO, reaction from most of the crowd and council members was upbeat and supportive.
“My adopted city of Charlotte values me, values us,” Gunn offered excitedly. “This is a happy ending.”
In celebration of the victory, the Carolinas LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce, along with Charlotte Black Pride, LGBTQ Democrats of Mecklenburg County, the Campaign for Southern Equality, Equality NC, Charlotte Pride, the Freedom Center and Transcend Charlotte invite everyone interested to “Charlotte is Ready: A Community Celebration” this evening (August 10) beginning at 7:00 p.m. The NoDa Brewing Company, at 2921 N. Tryon Street, will host the event.
Join us: This story is made possible with the help of qnotes’ contributors. If you’d like to show your support so qnotes can provide more news, features and opinion pieces like this, give a regular or one-time donation today.