Posted June 30, 2015
The North Carolina legislature overrode a veto to pass a bill in support of lawsuits against those who make recordings in nonpublic areas of businesses, including farms.
Gov. Pat McCrory had said he wanted to sign similar legislation but only with the addition of protections for people who report their findings to police without disclosing them to the public.
North Carolina state law will, in 2016, include statements that property owners have a right to sue employees considered to be disloyal through the act of recording or otherwise capturing information from nonpublic areas. House Bill 405, which contained that language, went to the governor’s desk May 20.
Gov. McCrory issued the veto May 29, and both legislative chambers voted to override the veto June 3.
In vetoing the bill, McCrory provided a statement that the bill was intended to address a valid concern about corporate espionage and undercover investigators, “a particular problem for our agriculture industry” that “needs to be stopped.” But he thought the bill provided inadequate protection and guidance for employees who find criminal activity. “I am concerned that subjecting these employees to potential civil penalties will create an environment that discourages them from reporting illegal activities,” he said.
The governor noted he had signed, the same week as the veto, a law requiring that employees of adult care homes report sexual abuse they witness. He could not, “in good conscience,” sign a contradictory bill, he said, and he offered to work with the General Assembly on a replacement with protections for those who report illegal activities “directly and confidentially to the proper authorities.”
The law that was passed, despite the governor’s veto, states that it does not diminish protections for employees who file reports or participate in investigations of subjects such as workers’ compensation, mine safety, and National Guard deployment rights, and it does not diminish protections for those who report improper government activities.
Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said in an announcement that the new law will prevent public knowledge about abuses on farms.