WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — Wake County commissioners are the 14th in the state to enact a new non-discrimination ordinance.
What You Need To Know
- Ordinance is meant to protect everyone from discrimination while working and using public services in Wake County
- Takes effect of February 1, 2022
- This is possible after a section of House Bill 142 expired in December 2022
The ordinance is meant to protect everyone while at work and while using public services. Equality N.C., an organization dedicated to securing LGBTQ rights, helped council commissioners during the process.
“We worked lockstep to answer any questions, to bring constituents in connection with their elected officials so they knew why these measures were important and the pathways they could take to protect the most vulnerable,” said Kendra Johnson, executive director of Equality N.C.
The ordinance says all people should be free of discrimination “based on race, natural hair or hairstyles, ethnicity, creed, color, sex, marital or familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or ancestry, marital or familial status, pregnancy, National Guard or veteran status, religious belief or non-belief, age, or disability.”
“It’s a huge day for progress,” Johnson said. “We’ve been in a year that’s been very divisive and we’re seeing bipartisan groups come together to create protections for the most marginalized. So there is just good reason to celebrate.”
This ordinance is applicable to Wake County and not within territorial city or town limits, unless a municipal government opts into the ordinance.
Violations of this ordinance should be filed within 90 days of the incident with the City Manager’s Office to be investigated.
“Discrimination is something we have been battling with since this country was founded,” Johnson said. “The ordinances won’t stop discrimination, but they can bring about culture change.”
House Bill 142, ratified in March 2017, prevented local governments from enacting ordinances regulating private employment practices or regulating public accommodations. This portion of the act expired in December 2020.
Since that expiration, local governments in North Carolina have been adopting non-discrimination ordinances. Wake County is the 14th. The ordinance will take effect February 1, 2022.