In a 32 to 13 vote North Carolina’s Senate passed a bill Monday night which allows business owners to sue employees who secretly record audio or video in the workplace.

The move makes it illegal for employees to document criminal acts or other malfeasance by their employer.

The bill is specifically targeted at animal rights groups who make undercover recordings at poultry and cattle farms. Those recordings have shown some cases of animal mistreatment and health violations at some farms.

Yet the bill isn’t limited to agricultural businesses and applies to all businesses in the state. The penalty for violation is that employees can be sued for damages and court costs, effectively a financial death penalty for whistleblowers and their families.

Democratic Senator Josh Stein said that overall “the public will be worse off as a result of this bill. There will be violations of law that occur that would not have otherwise occurred because of this bill.”

“Our whistleblower laws do nothing for an employee who brings forward a violation of the law that affects the general public.”

An employee who discovers unsanitary conditions at a meat processing plant, or expired drugs being distributed at a pharmacy would not be covered.

This measure is now on its way to the governor’s desk.

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