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Sep
2015
22

NC Closes in on Misclassification Law; Former Mayor Announces Labor Commish Bid

Former Raleigh Mayor, Charles Meeker, is running for Labor Commissioner.

Former Raleigh Mayor, Charles Meeker, is running for Labor Commissioner.


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The North Carolina State Senate has passed a version of a House bill that would clamp down on employee misclassification.  The move sets up a showdown that is likely to result in compromise between the two bills.  Among the major sticking points is an exception for newspapers that would allow them to continue to classify their delivery people as independent contractors.  

Ironically, the wheels were initially set in motion by the Charlotte News & Observer, whose exposé “Contract to Cheat” blew the roof off the misclassification epidemic in North Carolina. The five-part series detailed the extent to which independent contractor status is abused, with shocking prevalence appearing in the construction industry. All in all, the unscrupulous practice costs the state $467 million in annual tax revenue losses.  

With mounting public pressure, Governor Pat McCrory agreed tackled the topic in September of 2014.  This March, members of the North Carolina House GOP moved forward with legislation.

It should be noted that in 2012, in one of her last acts as governor, McCrory’s predecessor Bev Perdue signed Executive Order 125, which called for the creation of a misclassification task force.   

The exposé also threw North Carolina Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry into the not-so-friendly fire.  As of November of 2014, her office had filed just four wage theft lawsuits in the preceding five years

This week, former Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker announced that he would run against Berry in 2016.  He cited misclassification and wage theft as major factors in his decision:

“The North Carolina labor department needs to do a better job than it’s doing right now particularly as to worker safety, doing something about the misclassification of employees as independent contractors, and finally seeing to it that employees who work are paid the wages that are owed.”

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