• NC's Ag-gag bill impacts whistleblowers

    By: Stephanie Coueignoux


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A new bill just passed by North Carolina lawmakers could impact everyone from vulnerable children to older citizens, Eyewitness News learned.

    Many called the law the Ag-gag bill after animal rights activists said it would prevent them from exposing animal abuse at farms.

    Eyewitness News reporter Stephanie Coueignoux learned this goes far beyond animals.

    Stephanie Stout's emotions are still raw after her grandmother fell at her Huntersville nursing home and died several days later. 

    “No one wants to put their grandma in a nursing home,” Stout said. “You want to be able to take care of her yourself.”
    Her grandmother suffered from dementia, which is why Stout relied on the staff to be her eyes and ears.

    Stout is suing the nursing home after she said employees never revealed how her grandmother fell.
    “No one has ever called us back to this day, just to let you know what's happened to grandma,” Stout said.
    Stout is also speaking out against House Bill 405.

    The Property Protection Act, or the Ag-gag bill, aims to punish any employee who documents, records or removes a company's information.
    Attorney William Goldfarb said that means any employee, including those who work at nursing homes or day care centers, would be punished for exposing abuse or wrongdoing. 
    “It's taking their voice away, and that's not right at all,” attorney William Goldfarb said.
    State Rep. Rodney Moore from Mecklenburg County is one of the sponsors of this bill. He said the bill is about corporate espionage and not about punishing whistleblowers.
    “It doesn't penalize them for making it known to the proper authorities,” Moore said. “So it's a misclassification of the intent of the bill.” 
    Moore said he would support amending the bill after Channel 9 pointed out that it doesn’t specify protection for employees exposing wrongdoing or possible criminal behavior.
    “I would amenable to that, and I'm sure the other co-sponsors of the bill would be as well,” Moore said.
    The bill protects all businesses except government agencies and law enforcement officers.

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