Wake County reviewing new nondiscrimination ordinance this week

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Ronnie Dunn is a hairstylist at Super Cuts in Cary.

She loves her job.

But over the years she says she has faced discrimination during hiring. Dunn said she believes it's because she's transgender.

"I've left job interviews knowing there's no way these people are going to call me back. Just by the way they acted during the interview. The little smirks," said Dunn, a biological male. "It makes you feel terrible. It makes you feel just so low and you want to act out and you want to say something but you don't want to cause a scene so you just bite your tongue and suffer through it."

In Wake County, that pain and embarrassment could soon end in the eyes of the law.

On Monday, County leaders will consider a draft ordinance providing employment and public accommodation protections for but not limited to LGBT people, including safe guards for gender identity, expression, and people's veteran, marital, pregnancy status, religious beliefs, disability or natural hairstyles.

"This is the right thing and it's the smart thing," said, Matt Calabria who is Wake County Commission Chairman. He says the new ordinance would affect private businesses in unincorporated areas of the county such as hotels, restaurants, shops.

The proposal does not cover religious organizations, or bathrooms and locker rooms, which are still regulated and controlled by the state.

"We deserve the same treatment and the same respect as anybody else," said Dunn.

This summer, the Town of Apex was the first municipality in the county to approve these types of protections.

Raleigh is considering a similar ordinance on Tuesday.

Under the county's proposal, people would have up to 90 days to file a complaint with the county manager.

That office could then launch an investigation.

"We hope there are very few cases that are filed with Wake County and ultimately with the court system about this," Calabria said. "We are trying to identify and communicate who we are. We are showing to the business community that this is the kind of place where you can invite employees to join you without fear that they will be hesitant because they don't know what they are getting into or they are afraid they will be discriminated against."

If the draft is moves forward on Monday, the board will vote on it on Oct. 18.

If approved, it goes into effect in February.
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