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Food Integrity Campaign Blog

GAP Goes to Court: North Carolina’s Anti-Whistleblower Law Cannot Stand!

Anna Myers | January 13, 2016

The Government Accountability Project (GAP), along with a coalition of watchdog organizations, filed a federal lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s harmful anti-whistleblower legislation. The state’s law, which aims to punish those who conduct undercover investigations of any private entity in North Carolina, is one of the most appalling overt attempts to silence whistleblowers in GAP’s 38-year history.

Like other states’ so-called “Ag Gag” bills, this measure was heavily lobbied by corporate agriculture companies, which have faced increased scrutiny of their animal welfare practices in recent years. Unlike other measures, however, North Carolina’s law is written so broadly that it could target truth-tellers across all corporate sectors – not just agriculture. Individuals who wish to expose improper or criminal activity at nursing homes or daycare centers, for example, could face a lawsuit and substantial damages if they provide evidence to the public or press.

This legislation cannot stand. As a whistleblower protection organization, GAP continues to be a leading advocate against state anti-whistleblower Ag Gag bills that aim to criminalize food industry whistleblowing by prohibiting (among other actions) the shooting of video at large-scale agricultural processing facilities without written consent of the owner. These laws have a chilling effect on whistleblowers who intend to expose atrocities to animals, threats to food, harm to workers, and potential dangers to the environment.

Throughout our organization’s history, numerous whistleblowers from North Carolina have come to GAP with serious disclosures that were in the public interest – including horrific food safety abuses at the national grocery chain Food Lion. GAP took 19 Food Lion whistleblowers to ABC News, which then had its own reporters use insiders to substantiate the allegations. The resulting powerful broadcast demonstrated the importance of video confirmation of whistleblower concerns. If the state’s new anti-whistleblower law had been in place, such evidence would not have been possible and Food Lion would not have been held to account.

As the coalition’s joint statement reads: “This law blatantly violates citizens’ rights to free speech, a free press, and to petition their government, and violates the Equal Protection Clause. It places the safety of our families, our food supply, and animals at risk, and it attempts to bully and threaten those working for transparency, free speech and the public good. Our lawsuit is being brought for the sake of the health and safety of all citizens of North Carolina. We are confident the law will be found unconstitutional and that a victory in North Carolina will deter other state legislatures from repeating North Carolina’s mistake.”

 

Anna Myers is Executive Director/CEO of the Government Accountability Project (GAP) – the nation’s leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.

18 Comments

  1. Cathi says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you… from Raleigh, North Carolina. Every one I know was shocked to learn this law passed our legislature. It’s bad for NC and bad for consumers.Report

  2. Graciela Huth says:

    If we choose a name for an American that loves our country and tries to contribute by showing what we are doing wrong in order we can correct it and better our society, it should be a name with a positive connotation, not whistleblower. That is why I refuse to call that person whistleblower and replace it with patriot. No society can advance if we punish any of its members everytime he/she contributes by making us aware of the errors in the system. Can you imagine if we use the same rule we use with “whistleblowers” when designing digital systems? A digital system to function must be perfect because it has a mathematical base. It uses logic. Why do we forget the logic when we are confronted with societal problems and we try to punish the good person and reward the bad one?Report

  3. Trudy Hammond says:

    Preventing the report of abuse of animals and humans ( of any age) is not ever going to be beneficial for the reasons thought to be of positive results. No mouth can be shut even if there is a consequence because INTEGRITY and LOVE will always prevail. Any punishment thought to be implemented on a whistleblower is not going to stop whistle blowing. I worked on a playground, I blew whistles all day to control the abuse from bullying on the playground. I had children come to me and tell and without seeing the crime I could not punish the abusive bully but I could watch for another bullying act from that child. SO WHAT IS THE PROBLEM? Why would society ever accept bullying from law makers. Government fear is based on greed and the power of an industry people have been brainwashed to think they need to survive. There is money to made on abusing the elder, animals, and our children. Got to have a justice system that keeps criminals cycling through at the expense of the weak. Government is becoming profoundly a bunch of bullies. I put bullies against the wall and I will encourage others to do the same.Report

  4. Hope says:

    Thank you for your great work!!!Report

  5. Marylou Ogle says:

    Thank God for the whistleblowers!Report

  6. Diane M Andrews says:

    Danger surrounds us daily through secrets kept from the public.
    We need more whistleblowers.Report

  7. Rose Hall says:

    Thank you PATRIOTS OF ANIMALSReport

  8. Dorothy Weirich says:

    As a widow of a VN Veteran, (3 tours 173rd Air Born), having to fight 5+ years for VA services, I’m sorry to say I’m not totally surprised and am ashamed of the complete dishonoring and disrespect to the oath of the Office(s) that the U.S.A. Senatorial and Congressional members have shown their citizens which believed in to do what was right! They are sure not taking their benefits or free speech!Report

  9. julie lee says:

    This is very wrong. I will not buy products from meat producers who font Carr about fair treatment if animals. This is enough to make me go vegetarianReport

  10. Wendy says:

    Democracy must triumph over capitalism in order for justice to prevail. Corporate greed cannot bully the common good.Report

  11. Graciela Huth says:

    I already posted my comment, however today I read the new postings and something sounded an alarm in my brain, regardless that men are the ones who uncover wrong doings, women are the ones more vocal supporting their endeavor! Did anybody else notice it?Report

  12. Graciela Huth says:

    Dorothy Weirich, I am very old. I belong to the time that the woman “was symbolically acquired” by men as one more piece of his wealth. I went through all the changes for the better as women treatment is concerned. The pity is that most of the advances we achieved were not supported by a change in the education agenda and many young women look at those benefits as a birth right. Sorry, your post brought memories of the time that the American people was “spontaneously” innocent. We started to lose our innocence when the Kennedy brothers were assassinated. Then we had President Nixon/Kissinger with Watergate and still partially innocent we elected President Carter who was destroyed in order to enthrone President Reagan/Rumsfeld/Cheney.
    I have the impression that all the oaths and most of the laws are outdated in the USA. Who is going to enforce those outdated oaths? Our Congress that disrespects and sometimes openly insults the elected President? The DOJ that fails to take action with the criminals because they are in power positions? SCOTUS that has a majority of Justices indefinitely entrenched in positions at a time that they themselves can hardly remember the basic principles of the Constitution our Founding Fathers left us? And so doing give “persona” to a corporation? Or religious rights to the owners of a company? Or remains silent when the basic right to vote by every citizen is revoked?
    Nature is wise. She oversees that all species but the human – because of a simple additional brain function – rapidly adapt to the new conditions. Humans need to do it themselves or perish. Well, may be nature could help us in adapting body functions but cannot openly interfere with our institutions and regulations.
    Man can only succeed by correcting himself the errors in the institutions he designs, which become “alive” according to the men who use them.
    This is the effort we must thank to Snowden for, because he found out the men that make the institution were telling lies that could harm the rest of men.
    So, now, thanks to Snowden we can review those errors and correct them before they destroy our society and the many lives lost trying to better that society.

    In my first commentary I mentioned that we should apply the binary logic we use to make programs for computers. The positive/negative principle that works wonders when applied to everyday life. Good/bad is the parameter all religions use. It is common sense. Let live/kill. Education/ignorance. Respect/disrespect. Available food/hunger. And so on.
    We need new oaths that insure the the ones that take them can contribute their intelligence to the bettering of the system. Military mentality (systems) are obsolete. Humankind is trying to live in a peaceful world. It can be done. We need to spiritually grow to reach the understanding that we are not predators that want everything that belong to others, whether they need it or not. Just because of power. I am sorry but if we keep the mentally you and I were brought up in, with the changes in the total human society we are accelerating not our progress but our complete extinction.Report

  13. Graciela Huth says:

    Two errors I need to correct, they are in the paragraph that starts with: HUMANKIND…WHETHER THEY NEED IT OR NOT SHOULD BE WHETHER WE NEED IT OR NOT.

    Third line counting from the bottom … MENTALLY SHOUL BE MENTALITY. Sorry and thank you!Report

  14. linda boyce says:

    thanks whistleblowersReport

  15. Elizabeth Tuminski says:

    This law is anti-American and should be reversedReport

  16. Judy Lacombe says:

    This law is what you get when the Koch brothers and Art Polk pour dark money into a state. NC is becoming a vulture capitalist dream of a corporate plantation. This gag law is nothing to their endless, tax exempt spending.Report

  17. Rosemary says:

    This is so wrong, where is your moral conscious?Report

  18. David Davis says:

    This corrupt lack of humanity is a demonstration of what happens when money and greed take over all other considerationsReport

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