Raleigh, N.C. — The state House has approved a bill that would remove certain unemployment records from public view in response to an admonishment from the U.S. Department of Labor.
This records fix was part of a broader measure vetoed by Gov. Pat McCrory.
"Our policy of disclosing the outcome of unemployment decisions violates (federal) policy," Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, explained during a committee meeting Wednesday night before the measure came to the House floor.
For years, several groups of lawyers have collected copies of the notices mailed to workers who applied for unemployment compensation but were rejected. The lawyers then mailed advertisements to those people, offering to handle their matter on appeal.
When the state Division of Employment Security moved to remove those notices from public view, one of the lawyers sued.
That has been a problem, because the U.S. Department of Labor, which administers the federal unemployment program, says the state is violating federal rules that protect the privacy of those making unemployment claims. The state could lose millions of dollars in administrative funding if North Carolina does not change its practice, according to Labor officials who have written the state.
"If we do not fix it and we go home, you can rest assured that the U.S. Department of Labor is going to come on to North Carolina like a pack of mad dogs," Rep. Julia Howard, R-Davie, said Wednesday night.
The lawsuit is still in the court system, but no attorneys are getting the notices at this time, according to a spokeswoman for the division.
The unemployment fix bill, which passed the full House 108-1, now goes to the state Senate, where lawmakers can send it to McCrory with a single vote.