On Monday, the Wake County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to add sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to its anti-discrimination policy.
The county has practiced equal employment opportunity for some time already, according
to Commissioner John Burns, and the County's updated Equal Employment Opportunity Ordinance enshrines protections for LGBT workers and job applicants into law. The ordinance contains the following language:
“Discrimination against applicants to and employees of Wake County Government in hiring, promotion, discharge, pay, fringe benefits, job training, classification, referral, and other aspects of employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and wages), national origin, age, disability, genetics, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family status or political affiliation is prohibited.”
Wake County is the fourth county in North Carolina to adopt an LGBT non-discrimination policy, along with Buncombe, Durham and Mecklenburg Counties. The cities of Asheville, Boone, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Charlotte, High Point and Raleigh
also have non-discrimination laws for LGBT workers on their books.
"This is an important first step towards the full complement of necessary protections for gay and transgender Wake County residents," said Chris Sgro, executive director of the state's largest LGBT advocacy group, Equality NC. "We look forward to working with local governments all across the Old North State on the county and city levels to pass similar protections."
The ACLU of North Carolina reports that 71 percent of North Carolina voters believe employers should not be able to discriminate against employees based on their sexual orientation, according to a Public Policy Polling survey.
"Employers know that part of attracting and retaining the best employees is offering a workplace that is fair, where qualified individuals are not discriminated against based on characteristics unrelated to the job," said Susanna Birdsong, Policy Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina.
"The sad reality is, despite overwhelming public support for protecting LGBT workers in North Carolina, it is still legal to fire or refuse to hire someone because of their sexual orientation in much of our state. We urge the General Assembly and other local governments across the state to pass comprehensive employment protections for LGBT workers.”