The North Carolina Senate unanimously passed a bill that would protect whistleblowers in the state from retaliation. That bill, Senate Bill 127, now goes to the state House of Representatives for the next round of voting. If approved, it would catch up North Carolina with dozens of other states’ whistleblower protection laws.
New law could get tested very quickly
Although there was no specific situation or court decision that led senators to develop this bill, they did agree the bill could apply to a forthcoming legal dispute between lawmakers and the administration of Governor Roy Cooper over the Atlantic Coats Pipeline. The State Assembly hired investigators to inspect the administration’s negotiation practices with utilities about the pipeline, but Governor Cooper has called it a political fishing expedition and is refusing to allow employees to talk to them.
Some legislators have accused the governor of having an unconstitutional slush fund worth tens of millions of dollars, the bulk of which came from energy companies building the pipeline that runs to West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. The concerned legislators say there could be coercion and “pay-to-play” involved in the development of the slush fund and its relation to the contracts for the pipeline.
One of the stipulations of the bill passed by the senate offers protections to state employee testimony made to agents or employees of legislative inquiry panels — a stipulation that could come into play in any ensuing investigations into the pipeline contracts issue.
For more information on the protections afforded to whistleblowers across the United States, consult an experienced attorney with Kardell Law Group.