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Workers' compensation: North Carolina employees left in the dark

Many North Carolina residents take comfort in the fact that state law requires businesses with three or more employees to carry workers' compensation insurance coverage. This policy provides workers and their families with peace of mind in the event of a workplace accident or injury.

Unfortunately, a recently instated policy keeps crucial workers' compensation data out of the public eye. Employees do not have access to records that show whether or not their employer is abiding by North Carolina law and providing the kind of workplace accident insurance employees need.

As we have reported, the state has redoubled efforts to penalize employers who skirt workers' compensation insurance requirements. The new policy regarding insurance data, approved by the State Assembly this past summer, seems to be counterintuitive to this effort. If the public has access to information that tells them if they aren't covered by workers' compensation insurance, then they can assist the North Carolina Industrial Commission by reporting their errant employers.

Legislators decided to seal the workers' compensation records due to concerns over employer privacy. Data submitted to state officials included employers' Social Security numbers and payroll information, so there was fear that this would become public information.

On the other hand, a number of other states have made workers' compensation insurance data available to workers. Officials from these states acknowledge that making this information available has benefitted employees and bolstered their efforts to enforce relevant state law without compromising private information.

At this point, some are making efforts to reverse this policy and provide vital information to workers throughout our state. Not only do workers deserve to be covered if they are hurt while working, but they also should be able to find out if they will be covered in the event that they fall victim to a workplace injury.

Source: The News & Observer, "Vital N.C. workers' compensation data becomes private," Mandy Locke, Oct. 27, 2012

  • Becoming injured on the job can be a frustrating and nerve-wracking experience. To learn more about your legal options, please see our Greensboro workers' compensation page.

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