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Employers Could Sue Undercover Investigators Under New Legislation

A picture of a hand holding a camcorder.

A bill passed by the state legislature would allow business owners to sue employees who secretly record proceedings in the workplace or gain access to documents.

The Property Protection Act offer recourse against corporate espionage and organized retail theft. It would allow employers to sue for punitive damages of up to $5,000 per day.

The North Carolina Farm Bureau's Jake Parker says it would help protect pork and poultry producers from misrepresentation by animal rights activists working undercover at local operations.

"This allows a business owner to protect their property by bringing a trespass action into situations where someone has come into the business with an intent of doing something other than doing their job, and they're looking for things inside of that business," Parker says.

But Chloe Waterman of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals calls it an "ag-gag" bill.

"I think that transparency is key to a safe food supply, and this bill flies in the face of transparency. It prevents the public from knowing anything about the way that their food is produced."

She says the bill would prevent transparency and could threaten animal welfare and food safety.

The bill now goes to the governor for approval.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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