North Carolina’s Anti-LGBT Law Has Chased PayPal Away

Its CEO says it can't work in a state where employees will face discrimination

Apr 05, 2016 at 1:03 PM ET

North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law has not been without business backlash. More than 120 CEOs of major corporations have signed a letter urging Governor Pat McCrory to repeal the law. Now PayPal is putting its money where its mouth is, today announcing that it’s canceling a planned North Carolina expansion that would have brought hundreds of jobs to the state.

CEO Dan Schulman, who signed the aforementioned letter, writes:

Two weeks ago, PayPal announced plans to open a new global operations center in Charlotte and employ over 400 people in skilled jobs.  In the short time since then, legislation has been abruptly enacted by the State of North Carolina that invalidates protections of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens and denies these members of our community equal rights under the law. The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture.  As a result, PayPal will not move forward with our planned expansion into Charlotte.

House Bill 2 removes a number of anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people in North Carolina. It requires transgender people to use the restroom of the gender they were born to, not the one they identify as. It is also broad sweeping in that it prevents the passing of new protections at the municipal level. Schulman says this law is discrimination, and is simply against PayPal’s values:

Our decision is a clear and unambiguous one. But we do regret that we will not have the opportunity to be a part of the Charlotte community and to count as colleagues the skilled and talented people of the region. 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.

This makes PayPal the first company to really make good on what have been mostly threats up until now. Companies have admonished the Tar Heel state for allowing such a retrograde law to be on the books, but they’ve stopped short of actually withdrawing from the state. Google’s venture capital arm has said the company will avoid investing in North Carolina startups until HB2 is repealed. The film and TV industry, which has a small but robust presence in North Carolina has also made an emphatic protest; a number of networks say although they have projects currently in production that they’ll finish there, they won’t work in NC in the future if HB2 stands.

More North Carolina’s Anti-LGBT Law Could Cripple Its Film Industry

More CEOs are also signing that letter condemning the law, too, including the heads of American Airlines, Apple, Bank of America, Facebook, and Google. The CEO of PepsiCo, which has roots in North Carolina, on Friday wrote a letter to Governor McCrory, urging him to reverse course. Business are certainly banding together to hit North Carolina where it hurts, but none of these protests and condemnations of the law have made a dent just yet.