The newest iteration of North Carolina’s Ag-Gag bill could extend beyond factory farms and slaughterhouses in policing employees’ behavior at work.
Senate Bill 433
— introduced by three Republicans including Duplin County Sen. Brent Jackson,
who has tried
unsuccessfully twice before to target undercover investigators exposing abuse in the state’s factory farms—holds employees accountable to a “duty of loyalty” to their employer.
Under the bill, known as the Property Protection Act, employees would be held liable for filming or making a digital recording on their employer’s premises. This of course covers factory farms and slaughterhouses, where workers would be banned from filming animal abuse, but there’s no reason why it wouldn’t reach into other workplaces as well
. Workers caught filming labor or food safety violations, for example, could be sued successfully by their employer.
The bill, which passed the House in a 99-19 vote, is waiting to be heard in a Senate committee. Meanwhile, the D.C.-based nonprofit Compassion Over Killing released an undercover video t
aken at Mountaire Farms
in Robeson County that shows birds in a slaughterhouse being violently thrown, shoved into leg shackles, punched while hanging upside down and sick and injured birds being thrown into piles of other dead and dying birds.
“If this bill passes, it will prevent us from shining a light on this abuse and showing the public what’s going on,” said Erica Meier, the executive director of Compassion Over Killing. “It would ban undercover exposure. The law now empowers people to speak out about cruelty and this bill would keep them in the dark.”
In a statement this week, Mountaire’s vice president for human resources Michael W. Tirrell said that the workers shown in the video will be fired.
“We find the actions depicted to be totally unacceptable,” Tirrell said.