PayPal scraps Charlotte plans, citing anti-LGBT law

Spencer Soper and Jeff Green

PayPal Holdings Inc. is scrapping plans to build an operations center in Charlotte, North Carolina, extending the fallout from legislation passed last month that bars transgender people from bathrooms and locker rooms that don’t match the gender on their birth certificates.

PayPal Chief Executive Officer Dan Schulman said the law undercuts the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The company is canceling plans to invest $3.6 million in the state and hire more than 400 people to work in a planned global operations center.

“The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture,” Schulman said in a statement.

PayPal’s reaction is the most concrete example of the financial consequences to North Carolina brought about by passage of the law. Last week, more than 80 CEOs and business leaders sent a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory and the state’s general assembly urging them to repeal the law, saying it was bad for business. Schulman was among the CEOs who signed the letter.

Other companies also have said they may cancel expansion plans in North Carolina as a result of the law.

McCrory, through a spokesman, declined to comment.

The legislation passed in North Carolina is no anomaly. There are about 200 proposed bills in 34 states this year that are considered potentially hostile to LGBT people, according to the Human Rights Campaign, which tracks such legislation and is among groups leading opposition to the North Carolina law known as HB2.

Governors in South Dakota and Georgia this year both vetoed legislation that attracted oppositions from corporate leaders. The South Dakota bill was similar to the North Carolina law in restricting accommodation for transgender people. The Georgia law was aimed at giving religious groups additional rights to deny services and jobs to LGBT people.

Mississippi, with a proposed law similar to the legislation in Georgia, may be the next battleground state on LGBT issues, according to Human Rights Campaign data.

Mississippi’s governor signed a law Tuesday allowing businesses to deny services to gay couples based on the employers’ religious beliefs.

The North Carolina law passed last month also prohibits cities from creating their own anti-discrimination policies. PayPal had announced plans in March to open a new global operations center in Charlotte and employ more than 400 people in skilled jobs, with its investment totaling more than $3.6 million by the end of 2017.

Red Ventures, a data marketing and technology company based in Fort Mill, South Carolina, is reconsidering an expansion of 500 jobs planned this year at its Charlotte location because of the passage of the law, CEO Ric Elias said in a tweet Tuesday.

“We’re hopeful HB2 is repealed because it’s the right thing to do. And if not, our long-term plans for aggressive expansion in North Carolina will change,” Elias said in an email.

The bill moved so fast than individual companies were just beginning to voice their objections when it passed,said Chris Fitzsimon, director of NC Policy Watch, a Raleigh group opposed to the law.

“This is a watershed moment in North Carolina politics,” Fitzsimon said.