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Mar 21, 2013

Buncombe County Adds Domestic Partner Benefits

Asheville, N.C. -- Buncombe County Commissioners voted 4-3 on Tuesday to offer domestic partner benefits to same-gender partners of county employees. With the vote, the Western North Carolina county, home to county seat Asheville, is now the fourth county in North Carolina to offer such benefits to LGBT couples, following Durham, Mecklenburg and Orange Counties. Several cities, including Asheville, already offer domestic partner benefits.

The decision on benefits, made along a party-line vote with council members David Gantt, Ellen Frost, Holly Jones, and Brownie Newman in favor, allows LGBT couples and their dependents access to health and life insurance, use of leave time and all entitlements under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

"There is never a wrong time to do the right thing," said Buncombe County Commission Chair, David Gantt before calling the matter to a vote. "And it's time to do the right thing, right now."

At the recommendation of Lisa Eby, the county's Human Resources manager, the Commission also unanimously approved a "Respectful Workplace Policy," in an effort to curtail "disrespectful behavior by or towards any employee or other individual by employees, visitors or vendors."

CLICK HERE to read the full Respectful Workplace Policy.

The Buncombe County Commissioners will take up the specific issue of LGBT employment discrimination on April 16, when they will vote to update current ordinances to include protections on the basis of "sexual orientation" and "gender identity."

CLICK HERE to learn more about the importance of protecting North Carolina's LGBT workforce.

“Tonight's historic vote by the Buncombe County Commissioners sends a clear signal that LGBT employees and their families deserve equal treatment,” said Jen Jones, Communications Director for Equality NC. "Next month, we urge the Buncombe County Commission to take an additional, but vital step, and join the city of Asheville in protecting hardworking LGBT employees from discrimination, harassment, mistreatment and dismissal simply because of who they are and who they love."

To date, 12 cities and four counties in North Carolina have workplace non-discrimination measures protecting LGBT employees. Four include gender identity or expression.

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