PayPal Cancels Plans to Expand into North Carolina Citing New Discriminatory Law

PayPal CEO Dan Schulman announced on Tuesday that the company made a “clear and unambiguous” decision to cancel plans to open a new global operations center in Charlotte, North Carolina, stating that a recently enacted state law denies LGBT individuals equal protection and “violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture.”

“As a company that is committed to the principle that everyone deserves to live without fear of discrimination simply for being who they are, becoming an employer in North Carolina, where members of our teams will not have equal rights under the law, is simply untenable,” said Shulman.

The loss of PayPal’s new center will cost Charlotte 400 potential new jobs, over $3.6 million in investments in Mecklenburg County, and an estimated payroll impact of nearly $20.4 million per year.

Bank of America, American Airlines, and other Charlotte-based companies have also expressed opposition to the law. PayPal, however, is the first to scrap expansion plans in the state in response to House Bill 2, which North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed on March 24. Though first, PayPal may not be the last. Earlier this week, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina indicated that “a number of companies we engage with in our efforts to market the state for business recruitment, tourism and film production have expressed reservations about doing business in North Carolina because of concerns regarding House Bill 2.”

The North Carolina legislature convened a special session last month with the explicit goal of overriding a progressive anti-discrimination ordinance passed by the Charlotte, NC city council on February 22. The ordinance forbid businesses from discriminating against LGBT customers in places of public accommodation, including restaurants, taxis, and stores. It also specifically allowed transgender people to use whichever bathroom most closely matches their gender identities. In order to undercut Charlotte’s ordinance, HB 2 states that localities may not pass any anti-discrimination laws that extend protections to classes of people not covered by the state’s law. It goes on to outline these protected classes—including “race, religion, color, national origin, age, biological sex or handicap”—but omits any reference of sexual orientation or gender identity.

HB 2, however, goes much further than repealing the Charlotte ordinance. In addition to stripping LGBT people of legal rights, the law also eliminates state law remedies for workplace discrimination based on sex, race, and national origin, and prevents cities from passing a higher minimum wage than the state mandates, according to the North Carolina Justice Center. It also overturned and eliminated “all existing local ordinances and any ability to enact family leave policies, child welfare protections, limits on the number of consecutive hours and employee may be required to work without a break or health insurance standards for any contractors” employed locally.

Local advocates are now speaking out against the sweeping nature of this new discriminatory law. North Carolina NAACP President Reverend William J. Barber II has criticized the “lurking racism” in the law. NC National Organization for Women President Gailya Paliga has also lambasted the law for its discriminatory treatment of women workers. “Women are fed up with laws like HB 2 that diminish our rights so significantly,” said Paliga who points to the law’s weakening of legal rights for women workers and elimination of policies that could help close the wage gap for women. According to Paliga, the law only reinforces the need for a federal Equal Rights Amendment to ensure constitutional protection against sex-discrimination more broadly.

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