Justice Department Sues NC After NC Governor Files Lawsuit Over Challenge to ‘Anti-LGBT’ Bathroom Law

iStock/Thinkstock(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- The Justice Department has now filed its own federal lawsuit against North Carolina.

In the lawsuit, the Justice Department says that part of the state's controversial bathroom law "constitutes a pattern or practice of employment discrimination on the basis of sex in violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964."

North Carolina filed a lawsuit Monday against the Department of Justice in an effort to push back against a warning that House Bill 2, a controversial law that critics have called "anti-LGBT," violates the Civil Rights Act.

On Friday, the DOJ sent a letter to the state informing the government that the state's HB2, also known as the "bathroom bill," violates the Civil Rights Act. The department gave the state until Monday to respond to the letter “by confirming that the State will not comply with or implement HB2.”

Gov. Pat McCrory, along with fellow plaintiff Frank Perry, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, accused the DOJ of a "radical reinterpretation" of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and wrote that the federal government position was "a baseless and blatant overreach" in the state's declaratory judgment action filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

"This is an attempt to unilaterally rewrite long-established federal civil rights laws in a manner that is wholly inconsistent with the intent of Congress and disregards decades of statutory interpretation by the Courts," states the complaint.

McCrory and Perry also argue that transgender status is not a protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

During a press briefing Monday afternoon, McCrory said he filed the suit to gain "clarity" on federal anti-discrimination laws.

"We believe a court, rather than a federal agency, should tell our state, our nation and employers throughout the nation, what the law requires," he said.

He also criticized the DOJ's tight deadline.

"This was a substantial request with very serious implications and the U.S. government gave us a mere three businesses days to respond," he said.

McCrory said that DOJ would only extend the deadline if he made a public statement agreeing with the government's interpretation with federal law.

The complaint does not make mention of the DOJ's interpretation of Title IX. On Friday, the DOJ also sent a letter to the University of North Carolina, declaring that the school system was in violation of Title IX of the Higher Education Act.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes North Carolina, ruled in April that a Virginia high school policy banning a transgender student from using the boys' restrooms was discriminatory.

The North Carolina law, which critics say is anti-LGBT because it discriminates against gay and transgender residents, has been the source of controversy since it was first introduced. But supporters argue the law defends religious liberty and protects girls in public restrooms.

HB2 was signed into law by Gov. McCrory in March, and directs all public schools, government agencies and public college campuses to require that multiple-occupancy bathrooms and changing facilities, such as locker rooms, be designated for use only by people based on their "biological sex" stated on their birth certificate. Transgender people can use the bathrooms and changing facilities that correspond to their gender identity only if they get the biological sex on their birth certificate changed.

The law also declares that state law overrides all local ordinances concerning wages, employment and public accommodations.

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