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July 23, 2019 North Carolina’s “Bathroom Bill” Dispute Ends with Consent Decree Protecting Transgender Individuals

Jenner & Block served as pro bono co-counsel with Lambda Legal and the ACLU of North Carolina in a three-year battle to protect the rights of transgender individuals.  On July 23, a federal judge approved a consent decree clarifying that transgender individuals cannot be prohibited from using state-run restrooms and facilities consistent with their gender identity.

The dispute dates back to 2016, when the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 2, which required transgender people to use public facilities matching their birth sex.  The firm filed a lawsuit against the state and the University of North Carolina, where several of the named plaintiffs worked or attended.  The plaintiffs won a partial preliminary injunction blocking HB 2 on Title IX grounds.  But in 2017, the General Assembly passed HB 142.  Although HB 142 repealed HB 2, it also pre-empted any further “regulation “ of access to restrooms and other facilities by any state agency, local government, school board or other government entity.

The consent decree prohibits the executive branch defendants, including their successors, from interpreting HB 142 to prevent transgender individuals from lawfully using public facilities in accordance with their gender identity and permanently enjoins the executive branch from applying HB 142 to bar, prohibit, block, deter or impede any transgender individuals from using public facilities in accordance with their gender identity. 

Associate Andrew C. Noll argued for the plaintiffs in favor of the consent decree at hearings earlier this year.  In addition, the team included Partners Devi M. Rao and Emily Chapuis and Associates Caroline C. Cease and Zachary BlauPartners Ian Heath Gershengorn and Adam G Unikowsky and Associate Lauren J. Hartz helped prepare Mr. Noll for oral argument.  Senior Paralegal Cheryl Olson and Associate Manager of Docketing Services Tyler Edwards provided critical paralegal and docketing support. 

News of the consent decree was reported widely, including in the New York Times and Law360.

CATEGORIES: HB 142, HB 2, LGBT

PEOPLE: Adam G. Unikowsky, Emily Chapuis, Devi M. Rao, Andrew C. Noll, Ian Heath Gershengorn, Lauren J. Hartz, Caroline C. Cease, Zachary Blau (Zach)

July 21, 2017 Firm Joins Fight against North Carolina’s Revised “Bathroom Bill”

Jenner & Block, as co-counsel with Lambda Legal and the ACLU of North Carolina, on July 21, 2017, filed an amended complaint that challenges North Carolina’s replacement “bathroom bill.”  At issue is HB 142, which replaced controversial HB 2 in March.  The plaintiffs include a group of LGBT individuals who work at various North Carolina public institutions.  The defendants include North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and other state officials.  According to the plaintiffs, HB 142 bars the “regulation” of access to restrooms and other facilities in schools and other state or local government buildings in North Carolina, leaving transgender people vulnerable to discrimination and even possible arrest.  It also prevents cities from passing any protections against discrimination in private employment or places of public accommodation until 2020.

“By deterring transgender individuals from using restrooms and other single-sex, multiple-user facilities that accord with their gender identity and preventing local governments from extending protections in employment and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, HB 142 violates the United States Constitution and federal laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex,” the complaint reads.

Partner Scott B. Wilkens leads the firm team, which includes Partner Luke C. Platzer and Associates Andrew C. Noll, Benjamin J. Brysacz, Lorenzo G. Di Silvio and Thomas D. Garza.

CATEGORIES: HB 142, HB 2, North Carolina

PEOPLE: Luke C. Platzer, Andrew C. Noll

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