Civil Rights Unit
The Attorney General’s Office is charged with protecting the people of North Carolina, and this includes protecting their civil rights. In 2022, Attorney General Josh Stein formally created a Civil Rights Unit to enhance the Department’s ongoing commitment to expand and advance North Carolinians’ civil rights.
The Civil Rights Unit monitors employers, landlords, financial institutions, and others’ compliance with applicable civil rights law and responds to alleged violations to the extent of the office’s authority. If you are aware of a systemic civil rights issue, including those related to housing, financial services, or labor rights, please submit your concerns via this form.
“North Carolinians’ rights to freedom and equality are foundational to safe, happy lives, and a productive state. When those rights are infringed upon – whether it’s by a shady landlord or a powerful corporation – I will take action.” -Attorney General Josh Stein
Housing and Financial Services
Equal housing opportunities are foundational to building successful communities in North Carolina. That is why Attorney General Stein has fought to protect all North Carolinians who are investing in their futures. Our office is committed to protecting North Carolinians against discriminatory, exploitative, or predatory housing and lending practices.
In 2021, Attorney General Stein led a coalition of 23 attorneys general urging the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to reinstate a 2013 rule on disparate impact liability to protect people from discrimination in housing. The coalition explained HUD had acted unlawfully in 2020 when it implemented a rule that made it more difficult for many valid housing discrimination claims to proceed.
In 2021 and 2022, Attorney General Stein investigated complaints from tenants of Mobile Estates, a predominantly Latinx residential community in Cary nicknamed “Las Americas.” The complaints alleged that the company failed to turn over mobile home titles to their rightful owners. As a result of the investigation, approximately 20 residents have received their titles.
Employment and Labor Rights
Ensuring that all North Carolinians are treated with dignity and fairness in the workplace is key to a thriving economy and a safe state. In particular, protecting the rights of historically marginalized workers, such as laborers and immigrants, helps ensure that economic mobility can become a reality for more North Carolinians. Accordingly, Attorney General Stein has championed workers’ rights in North Carolina.
In landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases, Attorney General Stein fought to ensure workers, including those who have suffered sexual assault or harassment, could have their day in court and to strengthen labor unions’ voices.
Attorney General Stein is committed to protecting North Carolinians – including protecting the air we breathe and the water we drink. Too often, low-income communities and people of color bear a disproportionate share of the burden of environmental harms. Attorney General Stein has issued 76 grants totaling more than $10 million to fund projects devoted to improving our environment. He also has increased outreach to low-income communities and communities of color and has prioritized funding for projects in those communities. He has fought to protect National Environmental Policy Act regulations that provide vulnerable communities and communities of color a critical voice on federal actions that pose environmental harms. Recognizing that low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately affected by climate change, he has also supported critical climate policies, including standards for coal-fired power plants, vehicle emission standards, and standards for oil and gas facilities.
He has taken the lead in combatting PFAS contaminants known as “forever chemicals” and has sued DuPont, Chemours, and other companies to PFAS contamination. He also won a $1.1 billion settlement against Duke Energy over its mismanagement of coal ash, which will bring savings to every Duke Energy customer.
Attorney General Stein has advocated for aggressive federal action to confront the devastating and irreversible effects of human lead exposure, an environmental justice imperative and for stronger risk management requirements for industrial facilities to protect fence- line communities from dangerous chemical accidents.
Far too many students are being harmed by predatory for-profit colleges and abusive loan providers. Attorney General Stein is working to protect students and borrowers from those who take advantage of young people working to better their futures.
Attorney General Stein reached a $1.85 billion multi-state settlement with Navient over its widespread unfair and deceptive practices that disproportionately harmed low-income borrowers. He also won more than $142 million in student loan cancellations for nearly 12,500 North Carolinians who attended by Corinthian Colleges, a collection of for-profit colleges that targeted single parents with false and predatory promises of future success.
In K-12 education, Attorney General Stein has worked diligently to uphold the constitutional rights of all students to the opportunity to receive a sound basic education. Through the ongoing Leandro litigation, the Department has advocated for adequate funding for North Carolina public schools to ensure that all students—especially those historically marginalized—receive an education that prepares them to thrive in and contribute to their community and state.
Since 2017, Attorney General Stein has fought to preserve and fortify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. North Carolina is home to approximately 24,000 DACA grantees, students or graduates who came to this country as children and were granted DACA status after paying application fees, submitting to and passing background checks, and applying for work permits. Attorney General Stein believes DACA youth will help contribute to North Carolina’s future.
Access to affordable and high-quality health care is a life or death issue that far too many North Carolinians struggle with on a daily basis. Attorney General Stein is committed to fighting for patients’ rights.
Attorney General Stein has fought to protect the more than 550,000 North Carolinians who rely on the Affordable Care Act to ensure they have health care coverage and can afford their medications.
He also has fought to ensure that North Carolinians have health care access regardless of their sexual or gender identity. He also fought back against federal rules that would have allowed employers to deny women access to contraceptive coverage.
Law Enforcement and Courts
Fostering positive relationships between citizens, law enforcement, and our judicial system is crucial to build safer communities. Attorney General Stein was proud to co-chair, and continues to serve as a member on, the Governor’s Task Force on Racial Equity in Criminal Justice, a body that was created by executive order in response to George Floyd’s murder. More information about the Task Force’s work is available here. In 2020, the Task Force released a report of recommendations to improve our courts and law enforcement to better preserve people’s rights, health, and lives. Those recommendations include use-of-force standards to prevent excessive force, mandatory intervention practices when officers see other officers using excessive force, protections of the right to peacefully protest, and alternative and cooperative responses to emergency calls. Several recommendations have since become law. Through his policy work, Attorney General Stein continues to be focused on working to make our criminal justice system truly provide equal justice under the law.
In M.E. v. T.J., Attorney General Stein filed a friend-of-the-court brief that supported same-sex couples receiving the same protection in domestic violence cases as heterosexual couples. He has championed victims of sexual assault by working to end the backlog of untested sexual assault kits in our state, improve sexual assault investigations, and train more Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners. He has fought to protect victims of domestic violence via the Lethality Assessment Program he has championed for law enforcement officers around the state.
Language Access and Effective Communication
Almost 1 million North Carolinians speak a language other than English at home, almost 1.2 million North Carolinians experience hearing loss, more than 270,000 North Carolinians have some level of visual impairment, and almost 200,000 North Carolinians with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. Communication barriers should not be an obstacle for any North Carolinian to receive a service or benefit. Those with limited English proficiency are entitled to language-access services when interacting with government agencies. Likewise, people who have vision, hearing, or speech disabilities use various ways to communicate and are also entitled to services and accommodations that provide effective communication. The Unit is committed to ensuring residents of North Carolina understand their rights and how to access them.