In early August, the Charlotte City Council unanimously passed an amendment to the
city’s nondiscrimination ordinance (“NDO”). The expanded ordinance applies to
businesses of all sizes and provides protections not otherwise provided under state and
Who does the NDO apply to?
The NDO applies to businesses of all sizes that operate in the city of Charlotte. This goes
beyond state and federal laws, which apply to businesses with 15 or more employees.
The NDO does not apply to (1) religious organizations with paid employees where a
condition of employment requires adherence to tenets of the religion, (2) private clubs, or
(3) membership-based groups that are generally not considered open to the public.
Who does the NDO protect?
The amended NDO protects against discrimination based on a person’s race, color, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity, age, familial status, sexual orientation,
gender identity, gender expression, veteran status, pregnancy, natural hairstyle, or
disability (“Protected Class”). (Those in bold are newly added.)
The NDO provides protections for customers, stating businesses cannot refuse customers
service or advertise that certain patrons are unwelcome in places of public
accommodations because of a Protected Class.
It is also unlawful for an employer to fail or refuse to hire a person, or otherwise
discriminate against them in any employment matter on the basis of their Protected
Complaints filed with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee (CRC)
will be reviewed to determine if it should be forwarded to the state or federal level. If the
federal or state agencies choose not to take up an employee’s complaint against an
employer with at least 15 employees, the CRC may provide the employee alternative
options at the local level. If the employer has less than 15 employees, the CRC conciliation
division may directly address an employee’s complaint against the employer.
The CRC complaint process will be similar to the process of resolving complaints in the
Once a complaint is received, the CRC will coordinate a conciliation process to resolve
issues that fall under the NDO. The CRC can take up complaints filed within 180 days of
an incident. An investigator with the CRC will conduct an investigation and submit their
finding to the CRC director for final determination. If the director determines a violation
occurred but is not ongoing, the conciliation division will create a plan to have the alleged
discrimination voluntarily eliminated. If there is reasonable cause to believe discrimination
persists, the CRC will refer the complaint to the city attorney for appropriate action.
The city’s Budget and Effectiveness Committee is working to assess options to issue fines
and penalties up to $500 for violators of nondiscrimination policies in addition to existing
If you need help navigating this new ordinance or ensuring your business complies, contact employment team members Nicole Gardner, Erin Ball or Jackie Kinni.