WASHINGTON, May 4 (Reuters) - The Department of Justice told North Carolina's governor on Wednesday that a new state law limiting restroom access for transgender people violates the U.S. Civil Rights Act.
In a letter to Republican Governor Pat McCrory that was seen by Reuters, the Justice Department said the state was "engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination against transgender state employees," and it had until Monday to address the issue.
McCrory's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
See related photos from the controversy:
North Carolina transgender bathroom law
North Carolina transgender law violates civil rights law: DOJ
DURHAM, NC - MAY 10: The 'We Are Not This' slogan is posted at the entrances to Bull McCabes Irish Pub on May 10, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina. Debate over transgender bathroom access spreads nationwide as the U.S. Department of Justice countersues North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory from enforcing the provisions of House Bill 2 (HB2) that dictate what bathrooms transgender individuals can use. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
Elaine Martin, right, listens as Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC, speaks during a press conference to announce filing of federal lawsuit challenging North Carolina's HB 2 law at the LGBT Center of Raleigh on Monday, March 28, 2016. Several different advocacy groups and some of the lead plaintiffs spoke at the event. (Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
Joaquin Carcano, center, the lead plaintiff in the case, speaks during a press conference to announce filing of federal lawsuit challenging North Carolina's HB 2 law at the LGBT Center of Raleigh on Monday, March 28, 2016. Several different advocacy groups and some of the lead plaintiffs spoke at the event. Joaquin was born a woman and is now a man. Simone Bell with Lambda Law is at left; Chris Brook with the ACLU is at right. (Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
TO GO AFP STORY BY BRIGITTE DUSSEAU -
Transgender delegates Jamie Shier (L) and Janice Covington pose for photographs at the Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 4, 2012. The Democratic National Convention Committee announced Wednesday that US President Barack Obama would move his acceptance speech from the outdoor Bank of America Stadium to the indoor Time Warner Cable Arena due to predictions of thunderstorms. AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read BRIGITTE DUSSEAU/AFP/GettyImages)
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In March, North Carolina became the first state in the country to require transgender people to use restrooms in public buildings and schools that match the sex on their birth certificate instead of one that matches their gender identity.
The law thrust North Carolina into the center of a debate over equality, privacy and religious freedom in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year that legalized same-sex marriage.
Prominent entertainers have canceled performances in the state in protest of the law, associations have relocated conventions, and companies have halted projects that would create jobs in the state.
(Reporting by Julia Edwards and Julia Harte; Writing by Letitia Stein)