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Report Says Agency Failed to Act on 10,000 Retaliation Complaints

Tuesday, August 11, 2020 | 251 | 0 | 9 min read

A claimants' attorney and a Raleigh newspaper report charge that the North Carolina labor commissioner has ignored more than 10,000 complaints of employer retaliation over the past 10 years.

Commissioner Cherie Berry

Commissioner Cherie Berry

The denial of the complaints, including one that was backed up with a recording of a phone conversation with an AT&T supervisor, “shows that Cherie Berry’s labor department is nothing more than a firewall to protect business,” said attorney Josh Van Kampen, of Charlotte.

Berry has been labor commissioner for five terms and has said that the labor department is more of a support agency for businesses, rather than an enforcement arm, the Raleigh News & Observer reported Sunday.

A 1992 state law was designed to protect injured workers from reprisals from their employers, the newspaper said. The statute requires the Labor Department to investigate claims of workers' comp retaliation and take legal action against businesses.

But over the last decade, the department has received more than 10,000 complaints from workers and has not brought any retaliation cases against employers, the newspaper found after examining data from the department. Short of its own legal action, the department can make or break a case by determining if the worker has a right to sue, the paper noted.

The department has issued only 127 right-to-sue letters, the news report said.

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