Published Date: 09/08/2014
By George Ports
The Employers Coalition of North Carolina (ECNC) was created to give the business community a more focused avenue of public policy input concerning day to day employer-employee workplace issues. ECNC is a partnership of three North Carolina employers’ associations: CAI (Capital Associated Industries), TEA (The Employers Association) and WCI (Western Carolina Industries) and their 2,500 members.
Governor Pat McCrory recently signed legislation (S42) into law that prohibits the Division of Employment Security (DES) from selling and releasing confidential appeals hearing notices, ensuring compliance with US Department of Labor (USDOL) regulations. The new law also exempts this confidential information from the public records disclosure requirements of Chapter 132 of the North Carolina General Statutes.
This legislation was introduced addressing a court decision by a Wake County Superior Court Judge in a case where a Durham attorney sued the DES for stopping access to unemployment appeals notices. Assistant Secretary of Commerce Dale Folwell discovered that attorneys were allowed to have access to these notices on a daily basis for a monthly fee of $300 per month. Assistant Commerce Secretary Folwell had planned to increase the monthly fee from $300 to $600 and to mail out notices to attorneys three times a month rather than provide daily access.
After receiving a letter from the USDOL stating that such a practice was in violation of federal law and could result in suspension of payments from the feds to the DES, Folwell decided to discontinue any attorney access. The lawsuit against the DES soon followed where a Wake County judge ruled in favor of the attorney agreeing that this information was public record and issued a preliminary injunction ordering the DES to resume its prior practice.
This new law, which became effective on August 25, 2014, clearly states that DES appeals notices are not to be considered public records. To learn more about this legislation and new law, go to http://j.mp/nc-s42.