The North Carolina General Assembly passed a new bill on Wednesday that bans the state’s Division of Employment Security from selling law firms confidential hearing notices for unemployment benefit appeals, according to The Winston-Salem Journal.
The bill has yet to be signed by Governor Pat McCrory, but he is expected to sign it this coming week. The major question is whether or not the bill will stick. A Wake County Superior Court ruling in the coming week could change the outcome of the bill. The court is waiting to rule on a lawsuit that was filed by a law firm that claims banning access to notices would harm its business.
The assistant secretary for Employment Security, Dale Folwell, said that the bill stems from a security issue at the division from February. Couriers for the law firms were picking up the packets and going to the loading dock of the building and not to security.
The solution proposed by Folwell was to offer the packets to all law firms for $600 per month and sending them out three times per month.
Employment Security received a cease-and-desist letter from U.S. Labor officials in March, claiming that the notices given to law firms are a direct violation of federal privacy laws.
“The passage of this law ensures that we remain in compliance with federal labor regulations,” Folwell said. “Our agency always tries to respect authority, and we thank the General Assembly for removing this agency from a legal rock and a hard place. The passage of this bill ensures us that going forward, we are able to fully protect our employers’ and claimants’ confidential information.”Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, said, “It is egregious that an attorney can get information before the affected claimant or employer, and that they are able to make money off someone's unfortunate situation.”